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NHL media guides supply little-known details about players' off-ice lives

Chicago defenceman Brent Seabrook loves yogurt covered peanuts, Carolina captain Rod Brind'Amour can't get enough Red Vines licorice and Los Angeles defenceman Tom Preissing says his favourite food is bacon.

Philadelphia goalie Martin Biron has horses named Mel and Mad Dog, teammate Mike Knuble has a leopard gecko named Flames and San Jose centre Joe Thornton owns cats named Lenny and Indy.

Sure, hockey fans can get statistics galore in the 2007-2008 media guides issued by the 30 NHL teams, but look a little closer and there's trivia gold buried in those pages.

Leaping into the modern age are the Toronto Maple Leafs, who in previous years didn't include personal info on players in their guides.

Aha, the secrets are out.

Unbeknownst all these years about Mats Sundin is that the one person he'd like most to meet is Nelson Mandela, and he'd be an electrician if he were not playing hockey.

The Leafs' Mark Bell would prefer an audience with the Dalai Lama, while teammate Bryan McCabe apparently isn't looking for a spiritual awakening. The one person McCabe would most like to meet is Vince Vaughn. You know, the actor.

All but five teams provide some personal info on their players in their guides. Declining to reveal anything about life away from the rink are Ottawa, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton and Pittsburgh.

Trades have led to revelations.

Jason Smith went from the Oilers, one of those five secretive teams, to the Flyers, who tell us that the defenceman's nickname is "Gator", doughnuts are his weakness, he has an English bulldog named "Oscar" and "the one thing that he cannot live without is his cellphone."

We learn that Joffrey Lupul, another former Oiler, would choose to be invisible if he had one super power to choose, and that "Yellow Ledbetter" by Pearl Jam is his cellphone's ring tone.

The Flyers also give us the lowdown on Danny Briere. Turns out that he drives a Lexus hybrid and his best Halloween costume was when he dressed up as a sumo wrestler. He has a Boston terrier named "Zora" and he would opt to be an accountant if he were not a hockey player.

Metallica is the favourite band of quite a few players including Nashville forward Jordan Tootoo, Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, Phoenix defenceman Derek Morris, St. Louis forward Brad Boyes, Nashville right-winger Alexander Radulov, Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera and Wild forward Pavol Demitra. A lot of puck guys also like Nickelback.

"Entourage" apparently is a highly popular TV show among NHL players.

The first job Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo had was selling shoes in his father's shoe store, which is fairly tame when one considers that Krys Barch, a forward in the Dallas organization, worked on a slaughterhouse killing floor.

Dallas centre Steve Ott would be a jet fighter pilot if he wasn't a hockey player, Nashville goalie Chris Mason would be a firefighter, Leafs forward Kyle Wellwood would be a writer, and St. Louis rookie Erik Johnson would be a radio disc jockey.

If he could choose an actor to play him in his life story, Colorado goalie Jose Theodore would pick Johnny Depp.

New Jersey defenceman Paul Martin's favourite book is the Neil Young biography "Shakey" and Columbus star Rick Nash lists the John Steinbeck classic "Of Mice and Men" as his best read.

Now here's something we always wanted to know: Mike Modano's first car was a dark green 1976 Chevy Impala.

The Philly guide, our favourite by the way, includes defenceman Kimmo Timonen's welcome to the NHL moment: Kris Draper hitting him from behind and knocking out his front teeth. He can laugh about it now.

Vancouver captain Markus Naslund's first hockey memory was of "his first practice when he couldn't skate."

Many players around the league pick Tiger Woods or George Bush as the person they'd most like to meet.

Washington star Alex Ovechkin pays for eight season tickets to Capitals games and donates them to soldiers and needy children. Tampa Bay's Brad Richards and a lot of other players also buy and give away tickets or suite seats to those who can't afford to buy them.

Teams that include personal info sometimes repeat the best tidbits from previous guides, which is the case with Anaheim centre Andy McDonald. We're reminded that his first job was as an assistant vaccinator outside his home town of Strathroy, Ont.

"He made roughly $6 an hour, claiming to be one of the lucky few to land a job at the turkey farm," the Ducks tell us.

McDonald didn't last long, which he divulged when asked about the traumatic teen task while playing in the Stanley Cup final last spring.

Some teams are guarded in what they divulge. Boston's personal blurb on goalie Tuukka Rask consists of one word: single. The New York Islanders guide gives only the names of wives and children and, sometimes, community of residence.

There are 15 guides with identifiable players on the covers.

Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Phoenix' Shane Doan and Boston's Marc Savard are the only players to get covers for themselves.

Calgary fronts Jarome Iginla, Dion Phaneuf and Alex Tanguay, Edmonton features Shawn Horcoff, Dustin Penner and Jarret Stoll up front, and Toronto goes with Sundin, Darcy Tucker, Tomas Kaberle and Bryan McCabe.

Only two teams, Vancouver and St. Louis, gave their head coach a spot among players on the cover.

The other 15 guides have miscellaneous covers. Ottawa uses the team logo, Montreal uses an old-fashioned Habs sweater, New Jersey displays its new arena and Anaheim proudly fronts the Stanley Cup with a Pacific sunset and a surfer in the background.

Oh, we nearly forgot: Carolina forward Cory Stillman has a dog named Cane.


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