VANCOUVER – Ryan Kesler is used to stirring things up on the ice.
Now the Vancouver Canucks centre has caused a stir in the NHL team’s dressing room by posing nude for ESPN the Magazine’s The Body Issue.
“I didn’t recognize him this morning when he came in with clothes on,” coach Alain Vigneault said with a laugh Wednesday.
“I saw the picture once. It was interesting.”
Kesler is among 21 athletes featured in the issue.
His photo shows a very fit Kesler leaning against a wall. The shot is a side view, so only the rippling muscles on Kesler’s arm and his sculptured leg can be seen.
Canuck captain Henrik Sedin grinned nervously when asked about the picture.
“I didn’t take a deeper look,” he said.
Kesler shrugged off the teasing from his teammates.
“Jealously!” he said. “That’s all they’ve got.
“It turned out well. I had a lot of fun doing it. That’s pure me.”
The 27-year-old from Livonia, Mich., discussed doing the pictures with his wife before agreeing to the photo shoot.
“She supported me 100 per cent,” he said. “I thought it would be a good thing to do.
“I’m happy I did it.”
Canuck goaltender Roberto Luongo said he also was asked to pose, but said no.
“I declined the invitation,” he said. “This body is for one set of eyes only.
“Unfortunately, Kess accepted.”
Asked what he thought about the pictures, Luongo shook his head.
“I have no comment.”
Kesler won the Selke Trophy last season as the league’s top defensive forward. He had 66 points, including a career-high 41 goals.
Kesler won’t be in the lineup when the Stanley Cup finalist Canucks open their season against the Pittsburgh Penguins Thursday night. He underwent hip surgery during the summer and isn’t sure when he will return.
The Body Issue features both male and female athletes. Also pictured are Olympic snowboarder Gretchen Bleiler, Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin, U.S. women’s soccer team goaltender Hope Solo, and New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes.
In the past, athletes have used nude calendars to help raise money. The Canadian women’s biathlon team doffed their clothes and strapped on their weapons for a racy nude calendar prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The “Bold Beautiful Biathlon” calendar helped to raise about $100,000.
In the past curlers and soccer teams have also barred all on calendars.
Sedin has no objections to Kesler posing for the magazine.
“It’s good for him and it’s good for hockey to get some publicly out there,” he said.