In Canada and the United States, there are a few successful restaurants owned by former NHL players. Like most former athletes, hockey players are not always simply 'retired'. These ageing stars move on to other business and employment endeavors in and out of the sports world. Some hockey players have managed to maintain excellent restaurants with good reputations in the food service industry.
Tim Horton, Tim Horton's
Playing Career: Tim Horton was a Hall of Fame defenseman for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played for the Leafs from 1951-1970, near the end of his career he played for the Rangers, Penguins and Sabres. Horton played in 126 playoff games. During his playing career, he was commonly known as one of the strongest and most talented defensemen in the NHL.
Restaurant: Horton opened a single donut shop (named Tim Horton's) in 1964 in Ontario. In just a few years, he had developed his holdings into a small empire of businesses. At the time of his death in 1974 he (and his business partner) owned 40 Tim Horton's stores. After his death his partner purchased the entire investment from the Horton family and is has since grown further.
Chris Chelios, Cheli's Chili Bar
Playing Career: I will always know Chris Chelios as a Chicago Blackhawk, others will know Chelios as a player for the Red Wings. He entered the NHL in the '83-'84 season with Montreal and was an All-Star by 1985. Montreal traded him to Chicago in 1990. In the 8+ seasons he was with Chicago, Chelios totaled 523 points before the team traded him to the Red Wings. He won the Stanley Cup with the Red Wings and continued to earn accolades as one of the best veteran defensemen in the league. He ended his Hall of Fame career with 1,651 games played and 948 points. He currently works in the Red Wings front office as a special assistant.
Restaurant: Cheli's Chili Bar has two locations, one in Detroit and one in nearby Dearborn. Each location offers customers a gift shop with various NHL and Chelios memorabilia. Both locations are reviewed as well as you would expect a sports bar to be reviewed. The food is all right, the service is spotty, etc. Like most restaurant bars located near sporting arenas, the food is not really the focus. Fans love the rooftop bar and the fact that you can rent one space for parties. If you're in downtown Detroit before the game, it might not be a bad place for some grub (if you can stand the noise).
Wayne Gretzky, Wayne Gretzky's
Playing Career: Gretzky is possibly the most well-known hockey player in the NHL. He has led a storied playing career and is perhaps the greatest scorer of all time. He played from 1978 to 1999, amassing 894 regular season goals and 2857 points in 1487 games. He began his NHL career with the Edmonton Oilers where he quickly cemented himself as one of Canada's greatest players. In the most memorable and controversial trade in NHL history he was sent to the LA Kings and played there for seven seasons. He had a brief stint with the St. Louis Blues and spent the remaining three years of his career with the New York Rangers.
Restaurant: Images of the interior of Gretzky's restaurant show the place packed with sports fans. The dining room area is more of a sit-down restaurant though. Located in the downtown entertainment district of Toronto, this restaurant bar offers average fare, at average prices, served by an average wait staff. The restaurant offers a great looking outdoor patio and space for private parties.
Wendel Clark, Wendel Clark's
Playing Career: Wendel Clark had the nickname 'Captain Crunch' and it wasn't because he liked the cereal (although he very well could have enjoyed the cereal). He was one of the most penalized players during his playing career due to his furious playing style and his propensity to fight. He played for five different clubs but most of his career was spent with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Being a bruiser didn't stop him from scoring though as he amassed 330 regular season goals and 37 playoff goals throughout his career.
Restaurant: Wendel Clark's is a successful, upscale bar and grill. There are two locations in Ontario, one in Vaughan and one in Oakville. Most patrons visit Clark's to avoid typical messy sports bars. The food is rated as average and the service gets negative reviews often (mostly at the Vaughan location). Still, the concept has won over many restaurant goers and both locations are generally successful.
Kirk McLean, Kirk McLean's
Playing Career: McLean was a goalie who spent most of his playing career with the Vancouver Canucks. Early in his NHL career, before he signed with Vancouver, he had arthroscopic surgery on both of his knees. He became a star with Vancouver in spite of this. McLean made a name for himself in the 1994 Stanley Cup run. The Canucks lost the Cup that year in game seven against the Rangers, but McLean's performance in the playoffs that season was spectacular, and one of the NHLs best playoff performances by a goalie. McLean has recently worked for the Colorado Avalanche as a goaltending consultant.
Restaurant: Kirk McLean's is, like most on this list, a sports bar and restaurant located in Vancouver, British Columbia. In addition to being a 'sports grill and lounge', the location is also a deli, offering cold cuts, soups, and salads. On the restaurant side, you can find typical bar offerings that are a bit more upscale. Fish and chips will cost you $17.00 and the ten-ounce rib eye is $22.00. In general, the reviews on McLean's are positive and put the restaurant in the above-average range.
Following your favorite hockey players after their playing careers can be fun. Especially when you can catch a glimpse of them at a restaurant they own, and enjoy their food. Maybe you will get a chance to visit one of these great restaurants owned by former NHL hockey players.