When an NHL player walks down the street and gets a cup of coffee, how anonymous can he be in public? We’ve all fallen into the trap of searching our names on the internet; how often do NHL players do the same? When it has been a long week, and it’s time to treat yourself, what’s the go-to cheat meal for a hockey player? What’s the most Canadian saying, eh?
In another roundtable, ESPN polled NHL stars for their opinions on these questions and more. Here’s what the players had to say.
On a scale of 1-10, how anonymous can you be in public? (with a one being nobody recognizes you and 10 being you can’t walk down the street without being swarmed)
Torey Krug, Boston Bruins defenseman: I’m about a six in Boston. Most people stare at me and are like, ‘That guy looks so familiar, but he’s so small. He’s super short. There’s no way it’s him.’ But also in the neighborhood that I live in, it’s a great community. I’ll be walking down the street and people just yell, ‘Hey, Kruger, what’s up?’ It’s not annoying at all, it’s actually a lot of fun. In another city, I’d be like a two. It’s rare that somebody would come up. It’s very low-key.
Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers forward: I was pretty recognizable in New York. I mean, I’m a big guy. I’m pretty out there on social media. I’m a very personable person. If one person knows me, I’m not the type of person who is like, ‘Get the hell away from me. Don’t take this picture.’ I don’t want the picture, but I was probably that person when I was younger who was asking for it. So I would say a seven or an eight.
Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche defenseman: In Denver, I’m probably like a two or three. I’ve been recognized, but I would say the vast majority don’t know what my face looks like. In a random city, I’m a one. I’m a nobody.
Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers goalie: It all depends on where you are in the city and what time it is. There are definitely moments when it’s a little hectic, but there are also days when it’s very relaxed. So it’s hard. I’m going to say 5 in Sweden. [New York] is less than Sweden for sure. I’m going to say a 3. It is nice. That’s why I love New York. You blend in pretty good, and you can live a pretty relaxing life. There are definitely moments and days when it’s more intense and there’s more focus, but there are also moments when you feel like you can live a pretty average and normal life, and that mix is great.
Ryan O’Reilly, St. Louis Blues forward: In the city that I’m playing for at the time, a five maybe? It’s tough. With the beards and stuff, you can wear hats, but you can still see the beard. In a place like Chicago, walking down the street, people would never know. Unless you’re going to, like, a sports bar … maybe [you’d be recognized]. But other places, you could go pretty under the radar.
Jonathan Marchessault, Vegas Golden Knights forward: In Vegas, maybe like a seven. It kind of happens often that people recognize me, which is fine because the fans in Vegas are not too much. They just say, ‘Hey, Jon, thanks for everything you are doing for the city. Can we grab a picture?’ It’s always super nice and super friendly, so I love it. In [any other city,] nobody is going to notice that much. Obviously, when we come in a bus, a lot of people will notice. If I go to Montreal or places like that, I get recognized — maybe more than Vegas. But I don’t mind it.
Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils forward: In Toronto, I’d say a six out of 10. In Jersey, I’d say, like, a two. Usually it’s the opposite way around, but that’s the market that we’re in: There’s so many sports, and a lot of different people living around here. In Toronto, they’re obviously crazy about hockey.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie: In Tampa Bay, it’s a two. Maybe they recognize me, but people are so nice there, they respect me, so they don’t ask me for too much. In Moscow, I’d say it’s a five or a six. In my hometown, it’s a 10.
Matt Duchene, Nashville Predators forward: Depends where you are. I think you can be a zero, and I think you can be a 10. Nashville, I’m not sure. Probably I would say pretty low. I think it’s pretty touristy around downtown. I know it’s touristy because I’ve been a tourist there many times. So I think you could fly under the radar there. There are other places where you wouldn’t, but I haven’t experienced it yet. Ottawa was … yeah, it was up there for sure. Columbus was actually pretty [similar] — they love the team there. Their fan base is really sneaky, a pretty awesome fan base they have there.
Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils goalie: Can I be anonymous, or am I anonymous? There’s a difference. I can be pretty anonymous if I want to be. Depends on where I am. If I’m in Canada or Vancouver, they still remember me pretty well. That’s, like, a five. Around here [in New Jersey,] I could be, like, a two but probably, like, a three. I wear a lot of hats and sunglasses — not on purpose, just because that’s what I wear.
Who has the best flow in the league?
Marchessault: I’ve got to go with my linemate, William Karlsson. It’s beautiful. I don’t think he wears that much product. That’s what I love about it. It’s natural. I used to have [long hair] too, when I was in junior. When I see his, I kind of miss it, but I can never pull it off as nice as him, so that’s why I don’t do it.
Krug: You’re looking at it.
Makar: Gabriel Landeskog. Just amazing. Incredible.
Larkin: Tyler Bertuzzi, my teammate. He puts no effort into it. None. I think he cuts it himself.
O’Reilly: Lundqvist’s hair. It’s pretty iconic.
Hall: Erik Karlsson. The length is nice.
Which version of the NHL do you like better: 6-5 games or 2-1 games?
Marchessault: I think I like it better 2-1. More tight, a little more fun. Obviously, I don’t want [Marc-Andre Fleury] to get scored on for five goals, but if we score six, we win.
Krug: I like them both. The tension of a 2-1 game is pretty special. If we win that game, I’m pretty pumped because I did my job as a defenseman. That’s my criticism from most people: that I’m not defensive enough. So I get pumped about a 2-1 game that we win. A 6-5 game, the emotional roller coaster for a fan is way more intriguing. It means I’m doing my job as an offensive defenseman but also not doing my job because that’s a lot of goals getting scored on us.
Makar: As a fan, you definitely want 6-5, but as a player, 2-1 is an intense game. You know both teams are good.
Larkin: 6-5 because it’s more fun scoring goals.
O’Reilly: Playoffs, I like the 2-1. Regular season, 6-5. And it depends if I’m playing or watching. If I’m watching, obviously 6-5 is more fun.
Hayes: 6-5 … until the playoffs.
Schneider: I like 2-1 games, personally. You can have the same amount of chances but have a game end 6-5 or 2-1. I think saves are exciting and just leads to more tension. Those 6-5 games are just like, “whoa, what the heck?” kind of games. A 2-1 game has more tension, provided there are good chances; otherwise, a 2-1 game is pretty boring.
What’s the most Canadian saying?
Krug (American): “Oh, don’t ya know?” We actually don’t have that many Canadians on my team. We have only, like, three Canadians — by far the least in the league. But they say that.
Makar (Canadian): “Eh.” It has to be “eh.” I’ve been caught quite a few times in the U.S. saying that.
Larkin (American): “Eh.” “Sorrey” is a real one, too.
Duchene (Canadian): Anything with “eh” in it. Back home it’s like, “How are you there, eh?” That’s probably the one that everyone says the most.
O’Reilly (Canadian): “How’s it going, eh?” I say that all the time. “Eh” is kind of like a question. You’re almost asking for reassurance. It’s almost like a question.
Hayes (American): “Eh” or “sorrey.”
Schneider (American): “Eh” is the obvious one, but a lot of Canadians point out that I say “huh,” and it’s the exact same thing. It’s so ugly, too. But I do say it. “Runners” is a pretty Canadian thing. When they say they’re going to grab their sneakers, they say “grab my runners.” They say they are going to “have a nap” instead of take a nap. “Go for a pint” is a Canadian thing, too. That’s how they suck you in, too: “Let’s go for a quick pint,” and then it turns into more than that. “Go for a rip,” that means go for a quick drive or ride. I had a whole list when I lived there.
Hall (Canadian): It just differs from province to province. People in Alberta have accents compared to Ontario, and I feel like I’m the only one that realizes it. Like a good Alberta saying is, “No doubter.”
Why in hockey do you call one another boys? In other sports, they call one another men.
Hayes: I think hockey is the most tight-knit team sport by far. No one is above another. In football, you have offense and defense, and they don’t even hang out. There’s the wideouts and the DBs and the quarterback and the O-line … it’s cliquey. In the NBA, you have 12 guys, and they don’t hang out with each other. Our old owner owns the Knicks, and they don’t hang out with each other.
In hockey, we have so much fun together. I don’t think I’ve had a guy on my team in my five years pro where I was like, this guy is an a–hole. I think it’s more of a joke, we’re just so tight with each other, it’s like, “Let’s go, boys.”
Toews: It’s just because we don’t grow up. We’re playing a kids’ game.
What player in the league are you most in awe of?
Marchessault: Obviously [Connor McDavid]. I also think [Nathan] MacKinnon is so impressive. I love watching him. I’m a big fan. He’s electric with the puck. He’s just dynamic. He goes so fast, dribbles and everything, just looks so fast and so easy at the same time. For me, it’s so much fun to watch. Overall, [Aleksander] Barkov has got to be up there. He’s fascinating to watch. I played with him, too. He’s probably one of the most impressive players I’ve played with.
Krug: Everything Sidney Crosby does. He’ll score a couple goals. It’s stuff you wouldn’t even think of doing in slow motion. Patrick Kane is right up there, in my opinion. Patrick Kane is my favorite guy to watch, he and Auston Matthews are so similar, and I enjoy watching them. But Sid is who I am most in awe of.
Makar: Nathan MacKinnon. He’s unbelievable. He just has a very good routine. He’s very strict in terms of the stuff he does — as a lot of great players do — so I try to learn from that.
Larkin: Johnny Gaudreau. As a little guy, he’s so skilled. He gets, like, five breakaways a game and makes a play every time he has the puck. He’s amazing with the puck. You can’t catch him. You can’t hit him. He circles around you. It’s amazing.
Vasilevskiy: Kucherov. He’s working every day, working hard. Never satisfied. Hard on himself all the time. So that’s what makes him one of the best in the league. It’s really fun to play against him at practice. We have our own competition every time. We make each other better every day, so that’s great.
Hayes: Probably Crosby. He’s getting older, and he’s still the same player. He’s getting better every year. I’ve gotten to know him a bit over the last couple years, and it’s impressive how he goes about being a professional. As big of a hockey celebrity as he is, he’s not in the public at all — and that’s impressive.
Schneider: Either Crosby or Kucherov. Crosby because of how he’s done it that long, it’s so unique. There haven’t been many superstars that do it like him, blending that grit and skill and creativity and leadership. Kucherov is one of the hardest players to read and defend. He can do it all — he can shoot it or pass it — it feels like he’s in control all the time. He knows exactly what he wants to do. If you’re using the old scouting scales, he’s like an 80 in everything in baseball terms. And then McDavid is just insane.
When was the last time you Googled yourself?
Marchessault: I was in junior, probably. It’s been a while. Nothing comes up that is new. A lot of people, if they want to say something, they’ll come in my social media account and be stupid and talk about it. When we lost last year [in the playoffs,] a lot of that happened, and I wasn’t afraid to answer back. My wife hated it. She was like, “Why are you doing that?” I was reckless, but after a couple days, I deleted everything on there. One guy, I lost it when he commented on my kids. I just lost my marbles. I released on him, I went super low and criticized his looks and stuff like that. It was awful, but when you talk about family and kids, that’s crossing the line for me.
Krug: It’s probably been years. I don’t spend much time on Google. That’s not searching yourself on Twitter, though. On Twitter, I’ll search frequently. Especially being in my contract situation, I want to see what rumors are out there. So I’ll search frequently.
Makar: Maybe a month ago, when I was with some buddies. Just joking around. I wasn’t really involved, it was them, so I don’t know what they found. I was just, like, there. I searched myself on Twitter once, and I probably won’t do it again. I don’t like looking at that stuff.
Larkin: It’s been a while — at least over a year. It’s been a while. Sometimes I look up my stats, just to see the analytics time of the game.
Vasilevskiy: It’s been a while — like a year, over a year for sure. Actually, I was looking for pictures. If I Google myself, I am just looking for pictures. I don’t read any media.
Hayes: Google, no. Twitter, though, sometimes I’ll search my name there.
Hall: It’s been a couple of years. It hasn’t happened many times. I probably searched myself on Twitter six months ago. Actually, the last time I did it was after my year-end news conference. I wanted to see what the Devils had on me. I don’t go on Twitter a whole lot, unless it’s to tweet. Sometimes I delete the app on my phone. But I can remember doing that after my news conference. I feel like I say a lot where they can put something out which is good or bad, I don’t know, so I wanted to see what they posted.
Schneider: It’s been a while. I probably did it more when I was younger. I got off Twitter a long time ago — I never really used it — and I’m private on Instagram, so I’m a social media dud. I’m not really that interested in myself, good or bad. I find that the world is a pretty mean place in general. With my kids and the life I have now, I don’t even know what people are saying about me, good or bad. So I’m not really concerned. All I care about is what my wife and kids think of me and what my teammate and organization think of me. At this point in my life, I don’t have energy to worry about anything else. It’s really an energy thing. I’m too lazy to look it up.
What’s your cheat meal?
Marchessault: I’m a big fan of a cereal bowl at night. I don’t do it too often, but when I do … I’m a big fan of Mini-Wheats or Cheerios. Trix sometimes. My kids actually eat super healthy. The Trix is there for me.
Krug: I grew up eating a lot of cheeseburgers. That’s my favorite thing. But probably today, if I have pizza, I’m all about it.
Makar: You could always go chocolate cake or ice cream. That’s always good.
Larkin: I love candy. It’s not really a cheat meal. I don’t eat it a lot. If I’m really going for it, I’ll go to Wendy’s. Spicy chicken nuggets are back.
Lundqvist: I’m a big cheeseburger guy. I eat a lot of cheeseburgers. I don’t see that as a cheat meal, though, because I rely on it. It’s too good not to eat it. I honestly don’t see it as a cheat thing. Maybe some people do, but I don’t.
What’s an impulse purchase you’ve made in the past year?
O’Reilly: I bought another guitar, which is stupid. I walked in. I was getting something fixed on one of my guitars, and I saw this vintage Gibson. And it was electric. I’ve never bought an electric guitar, but I saw it, and it just caught my eye. I started playing it a bit and talking to the guy. And then I came back an hour later and bought it. I brought it home, and I was like, “Why did I get another guitar? I have so many.” But it was so cool.
Marchessault: A house? I guess that is not too impulsive. You can’t really lose money on it, unless it is a bad investment, which I don’t think it was. Maybe a better answer is this: Me and my wife went to Prague on vacation after the World Championships, and we went to the Breitling store, and it seemed to be a good deal, and we both got a watch. So that was impulsive.
Hayes: Probably a Rolex.