In Canada, hockey players love their game of choice, and the game itself is a national pastime. But many players are equally adept playing at a poker table as they are playing on the ice.
Gino Odjick is a former NHL left winger who played on a number of teams, but most of his career was spent with the Vancouver Canucks. Standing over 6 feet tall, Odjick quickly earned the nickname ‘The Enforcer’ and helped lead the team to the 1994 Stanley Cup Finals alongside linemate Pavel Bure. After retiring from the NHL, Odjick returned to Vancouver and became a regular player at the River Rock Casino. He enjoys being the enforcer at the poker tables with an aggressive playing style, which helped make him one of Vancouver’s signature poker stars.
Vincent Damphousse won the 1993 Stanley Cup in Montreal, and spent another six seasons playing for his hometown team. After retiring from the game years later, Damphousse returned home and joined the Playground Poker Club. He regularly hosts various poker tournaments with other former athletes and poker stars to raise money for various charity events.
Luc Robitaille was born in Montreal, but became one of the shining stars of the Los Angeles Kings alongside Wayne Gretzky. Throughout his career, Robitaille set the NHL record for the number of goals and points by a left winger, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2009. Robitaille is still involved with the Kings franchise, and supports the ‘Echos of Hope’ charity with annual poker tournaments.
Arguably the most publicized NHL poker star is current Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo. One of Luongo’s sponsors is BC’s Playnow.com online casino, which backed his entry into the World Series of Poker 2012 main event in Nevada. Despite the controversy surrounding his position with the Canucks franchise, Luongo remains one of the most popular poker players in Vancouver, and is rumoured to play in PokerStars Sunday Million weekly online poker tournament as often as he can.
Canada is known to produce some of the best hockey players in the world. But given the trend set by former NHL stars, Canada proudly supports some of the top former athletes turned poker kingpins as well.