In the professional sports world today, there are “good” athletes and there are “bad” athletes. The “good” athletes are the ones that fans always look at as the hardest workers, the most like-able people, and the athletes that can be considered role models. There are plenty of examples that go in the sports world today. Baseball has players such as Mike Trout, Jose Altuve, and others that seem to do everything right on and off the field. Basketball has LeBron James, Steph Curry and others. The “bad” guys are the ones who have questionable backgrounds and have committed horrific crimes. Former star NFL tight end Aaron Hernandez seemed to be living life in New England until he was involved in a double homicide. The one sport that seems to have more “bad” guys than “good” in hockey, particularly in the NHL.
The NHL has always been a sport of violence. With bone-crushing checks into the boards, constant poke-checking, and the possibility of some fights breaking out, it is easily watchable with an element that everyone is sure to love. Yes, there are some “good” guys in the league such as Edmonton Oilers young superstar Connor McDavid and long time Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron that serve as role models on and off the ice. However, there are a lot of guys past and present that are “bad” guys and committed heinous crimes that resulted in long prison sentences. This list depicts the top 15 largest prison sentences of all time and why these former professional hockey players spent times behind bars as opposed to enjoying retirement.
15. Dino Ciccarelli: One Day For Assault
There are musicians in the world that have come up with one hit wonders to put them in a good position for the rest of their lives. The number 15 member of this list had a one hit wonder, but didn’t need any instruments to do so. Dino Ciccarelli used to play for the Minnesota North Stars. He was known for his enforcer type play that got a little out of hand at times. He was involved in an on ice fight that got so bad that the other player had to be hospitalized.
He had to spend one day in jail along with a small fine and suspension. Ciccarelli hardly did anything wrong as he was playing the game hard. But in this circumstance, there is knowing when to continue and when to stop. Unfortunately for Ciccarelli, he didn’t know when to stop and it cost him a day in the big house.
14. Dustin Byfuglien: Two Days For Boating While Intoxicated
Team captains sometimes need to take some pressure off themselves by having some fun during a day off. Unfortunately, for this current player; a night of too much fun led to some jail time. Winnipeg Jets alternate captain Dustin Byfuglien decided to go out on a boat one night in 2012 for some fun and relaxation. However, he went out on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota in a boat when he wasn’t supposed to (he was intoxicated). Originally, the Jets defenseman was sentenced to 30 days in prison. However, through pleas and good lawyers; Byfuglien only had to serve two days in prison out of the original 30 day sentence. We commend you for trying to have a normal life Dustin, but next time just be aware of where you can and where you can’t boat. The Jets would probably appreciate you on the ice and not locked up.
13. Chris Pronger: Three Days For DUI
The number 13 convict on this list had done it all during his NHL career. He won a Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers, he won gold medals with Team Canada, and he made multiple All-Star games. Although his playing career was well-respected, his choices off the ice might not have been as much. Chris Pronger was known for his pure goal scoring ability and reputation of receiving multiple game suspensions on the ice. Off the ice, he liked to indulge in some adult beverages to put it delicately.
Pronger was arrested for drunk driving and had to serve a long sentence of three days incarcerated as well as pay a small fine. Once again, not a very long sentence but with someone of Pronger’s presence and leadership; he should have been setting a better example instead of getting pulled over for having a few too many.
12. Miroslav Frycer: 14 Days For Impaired Driving
There is a fairly popular expression that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Well, the number 12 culprit on this list apparently has never heard of this expression or just doesn’t believe in it. Miroslav Frycer played in the NHL for a few organizations such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, and Edmonton Oilers. Off of the ice, he was known for making dumb decisions when it came to driving like Chris Pronger. Frycer was sentenced to 14 days in prison for a conviction of driving impaired.
The best part about this sentence was that it was Frycer’s 2nd time being convicted of the same crime! It is amazing to think of the stupidity this guy must have had to get the same charge twice in a lifetime and not clean up his mistakes after the first time. Two weeks seems to be very light for someone who is a repeat offender, even if Frycer did participate in the NHL for a considerable amount of time during his playing days.
11. Nikolai Khabibulin: 30 Days (15 Under House Arrest) For Drunk Driving
He could stop pucks for a living, but apparently he couldn’t stop himself from indulging too many drinks before getting behind the wheel like some of our other friends thus far. Nikolai Khabibulin enjoyed a modest NHL career, playing for a total of five teams. But even an NHL champion and All-Star goalie can have his fair share of slip-ups with the law. Khabibulin was nailed for drunk driving in 2010 for his role in drunk driving. The twist of this all was his jail sentence. He was sentenced to a 30 day sentence, but it wasn’t served like most offenders serve. His first 15 days were served with a work release and his last 15 were served under house arrest. In hindsight, it isn’t the worst sentence in the world for Khabibulin. But he should have been punished more than 30 days, luckily his lawyers made a save for him to get the sentence that he did.
10. Bob Probert: 90 Days For Drug Possession
Just looking at his photograph above, the number ten lawbreaker is a rugged, tough man that nobody in the NHL probably wanted to mess with. Bob Probert was an enforcer for the Detroit Red Wings and an assistant captain as also seen in the photo. While he was fighting players on the ice, he was fighting a life of drugs off of it. In March of 1989, he was arrested for drug possession and sentenced to 90 days in prison. He was also a guy that was in and out of rehab multiple times. So he didn’t really have much of a chance to stay out of prison as it turns out. One can only wish Probert would have been able to overcome his demons. Perhaps he would have still been with us today.
9. Slaya Voynov: 90 Days For Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is one of the most volatile crimes out there in the world today and NHL players are no exception to that. The number nine culprit had one night with his wife that I am sure he would like to forget. Slaya Voynov spent the last part of his career with the Los Angeles Kings, which involved a Stanley Cup title in 2012 and again in 2014. With fame and success in a city like Los Angeles, Voynov could have coasted and enjoyed the rest of his career, riding off into the sunset literally. Instead, on October 19th, 2014; he assaulted his wife. After that, his life changed. He was kicked off of the Kings and received a 90 day prison sentence for domestic violence. Voynov has seemed to make a recovery since that tragic incident, but it still looks bad that he had the audacity to put his hands on his wife in a threatening manner.
8. Rob Ramage: 10 Months For Vehicular Manslaughter
A key theme that has come up with this list is the former players not knowing when to put the keys of their car down when the situation presents itself. The number eight delinquent follows the line of the culprits so far on this list. Rob Ramage played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and six other NHL teams during his career. His signature moment didn’t come on the ice however. His moment came in 2003 when he crashed behind the wheel of his car and ended up killing one while injuring another. His striking of the two victims landed him a four year prison sentence for vehicular manslaughter. Of the four years he was sentenced, he only served 10 months because of good behavior. For such a tragic crime committed to the victims of the family, Ramage caught a huge break only having to serve 10 months out of 48, less than one-fourth of the original sentence.
7. Craig MacTavish: One Year For Vehicular Homicide
The Boston Bruins have always been known as a team that is “big and bad”. But the number seven male on this list might have taken that concept just a tad too seriously. Craig MacTavish played in the NHL for the Boston Bruins and now enjoys a post-playing career as a hockey coach. But between playing and coaching, he was involved in another crime involving a motor vehicle. In 1984, he was convicted of vehicular homicide and ended up having to serve a year in prison for doing so. Once again, another tragic case of a professional hockey player making a reckless decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. People have said MacTavish has learned his lesson and moved on in life. But nobody will forget that he was at one time a felon and had to serve time behind bars for his actions.
6. Patrick Cote: Two and a Half Years For Two Robberies
During the 1997-98 NHL season, the Nashville Predators were looking for big profile players to put their franchise on the NHL map.
Patrick Cote didn’t have much of an impact on the ice with several NHL franchises, but off of the ice he did more damage to his reputation. Back in 2014, he was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for robbery charges. Cote was being charged with robbing two separate Canadian banks.
In addition to the crimes he committed a few years ago, Cote also was arrested back in 2002 for possessing over 30 pounds of marijuana and according to Montreal radio outlet CJAD, he has armed assault on his record as well. His post-NHL career just has been a disaster.
5. Mike Danton: Five Years For Conspiracy To Commit Murder
Fighting used to be a vitally important part of hockey. This is well known.
The number five member of this notorious list took fighting to the extreme off of the ice. Former St. Louis Blues center Mike Danton received a seven and a half year prison sentence for being a conspiracy to commit murder. He only ended up serving five years of the sentence. The rumor was that Danton hired a hitman for his agent because he thought the agent was trying to kill him as well. This is definitely one of the strangest and cold-blooded crime stories in the history of the NHL. Another relevant saying for this particular situation is, “Keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Apparently, these two weren’t as close as the public perceived during that time.
4. Tom McCarthy: 70 Months For Drug Trafficking
If sports fans have ever watched ESPN First Take, they have probably heard Stephen A. Smith tell professional athletes to lay off of the weeeeeeeeeed! It is a shame Stephen A. couldn’t tell that to the number four entry on our list. Tom McCarthy spent time in the NHL playing for the Minnesota North Stars like Ciccarelli did. Apparently living the life of an NHL player wasn’t good enough for McCarthy as he had to live a double life. His double life involved trafficking marijuana and cocaine. In 1994, it caught up to him as he was arrested for trafficking these drugs from Canada into the United States. He spent up to five and a half years in prison for the charge. Athletes prove time and time again that sometimes being professionals doesn’t take away from temptations in the world and McCarthy was just another tragic example of that.
3. Tony Demers: Six Years for Manslaughter
Some athletes are deadbeat fathers. Some athletes are recovering alcoholics. Others like to abuse their wives for unbeknownst reasons. The number three perpetrator on this list is the classic example of a real jerk. Tony Demers spent years playing for the Montreal Canadians, an original six powerhouse. What he did on the ice didn’t get nearly as much attention as what he did with a woman he was having an affair with. He was convicted of manslaughter because he injured his wife so badly that she had to be hospitalized. A few days later, she was pronounced dead from all of the wounds inflicted by Demers. Demers received a 15 year sentence but luckily for him only deserved six. Demers is lucky he didn’t have to serve the rest of his life in prison for his actions.
2. Steve Durbano: Seven Years For Smuggling
Seven is supposed to be a magic number for people. Unfortunately for the number two criminal on this list, seven wasn’t so lucky for him. Steve Durbano played for teams such as the Pittsburgh Penguins and the St. Louis Blues. He was known for fighting as he loved getting into multiple fights and spent much time in the penalty box. When he wasn’t fighting other enforcers on the ice, he was smuggling drugs in his spare time. He was arrested in 1983 for drug smuggling and given a seven year prison sentence. Even after his first sentence, he couldn’t stay out of trouble. He was arrested and put in prison several other times for crimes like drunk driving.
Durbano comes off as a punk that just couldn’t help but stay out of the spotlight for these outlandish crimes. Durbano could be number one on a lot of other lists, but the number one culprit on this list makes Durbano look like a saint.
1. Mike McBain: 4-15 Years for Alleged Sexual Assault
The number one culprit is the cream of the crop. He is the most disrespectful and dirtiest NHL player that received a significant prison sentence. He was a part of the Tampa Bay Lightning, but he should be part of prison for the rest of his miserable life. Mike McBain was accused of sexually assaulting a girl for years. He was given a 4-15 year sentence for his partaking in the sexual assaulting and still is in prison to this day. This just defines scumbag. The worst crime ever is putting hands on a child that is under 18. McBain clearly didn’t care about the girl’s feelings or others involved in this whole situation. However, maybe McBain’s jail sentence will make him learn the error of his predator ways. But for now, he sits a top the list with the longest prison sentence in NHL history.
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