There is a subtle drug epidemic in the NHL. With popular drugs like alcohol, cocaine, MDMA, and marijuana being abused on a regular basis, players are beginning to slowly lose grip of one of the best jobs on the planet as it eats away at their lives. It generally starts at a young age, as the players are submerged by copious amounts of cash for the first time in their lives and aren't sure what to do with it. They begin going out late and putting in shifts in the new city they call home to -- all in an attempt to experience the nightlife. In turn, this eventually results in the players tending to not view their job as a professional athlete in the NHL as an ordinary job -- ultimately loosening their tightly-practiced skill sets and forcing them down the depth chart. It's unfortunate to see -- no one wants to watch another human being destroy their lives from drug abuse -- and that can also tarnish the sport's reputation.
Viktor Loov even admitted that there's "a lot" of cocaine in the NHL as of right now and that players are even going to the bar before games on occasion. Now there's nothing wrong with having a few beers, but you have to be held accountable to be at your best when you're walking through those doors and onto the freshly-glazed ice -- people pay a lot of money to watch you play. While some players manage to catch themselves before it's too late, some just aren't able to rebound back to their old ways and lose a spot in the lineup -- permanently. In spite of that, here's a list of 15 players who managed to ruin an NHL career, to an extent and completely, due to substance abuse.
15 Devin Setoguchi
A once-promising NHL prospect, Devin Setoguchi was expected to be a high-impact player in the NHL; before unfortunately falling victim to an alcohol addiction. Setoguchi managed successful seasons in San Jose when he tallied 31 goals in his first season in teal; however, after being traded and demoted to the minors, he found himself in the rural town of Glen Falls, N.Y. drinking two 26-ounce bottles of Jameson every day, ultimately leading to a mental breakdown which resulted in his checking into rehab. Even though a now-sober Setoguchi had many thinking he was back for good when he signed a one-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings, it appears as though he won't be finding anymore work in the National League.
In April of 2017, Setoguchi signed a two-year deal overseas with Adler Mannheim of the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
14 Ryan Malone
Ryan Malone actually used to be a somewhat-effective player, dating back to his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, after he signed a deal with the New York Rangers, he was busted for driving under the influence, with details leaking out to the public that he was also caught with possession of cocaine. This was just the tip of the iceberg for Malone as he eventually admitted to being an alcoholic and a frequent drug abuser.
After a short stint of six games with the Rangers, Malone then eventually informed management that he had no desire to pursue playing with the club. That's not exactly what many franchises expect to have from one of their players. What a waste of talent.
13 Zack Kassian
It's hard to believe that Zack Kassian was actually a part of Canada's (yes, you read that correctly) World Junior hockey team -- tallying a respectable 3 points in 5 games as they captured a silver medal in Buffalo, N.Y. Nevertheless, after bouncing between teams via trade, his effectiveness gradually regressed. This was only the tip of the iceberg though; on an off day, Kassian (who wasn't driving but was still intoxicated) was involved in a car accident and suffered a broken nose and a fractured foot. As a result, he was suspended without pay and was forced to complete the NHL's substance abuse program -- which he did fully complete. Today, he is sober.
Although he was an effective player in this year's playoffs, he has never fulfilled his full potential of being a 13th-overall pick -- going before players like Ryan O'Reilly, Marcus Johansson and, Mike Hoffman -- in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
12 Rich Clune
A player who was open about his personal addictions once he got sober is tough-guy Rich Clune. From his junior-hockey days to his first year in the show with the L.A. Kings, Clune would begin drinking the instant he woke up on off days and followed that up with smoking marijuana every single day. This eventually progressed to his heavy-weekly use of cocaine -- a habit that would wake him up at five in the morning in a fit of tremors. This forced Clune to rehab and even compelled him to walk out of rehab at one point while being in denial of his addiction. After the incident, he faced the music and returned to the same clinic and completed his treatment. Now, he does not drink anymore and hasn't relapsed.
Today, he currently grinds it out with the youngsters in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies.
11 Micheal Ferland
At the young age of 23, Micheal Ferland was sent to a Florida-Rehab center to try and vanquish a severe drinking problem that he had developed. The issue was so controlling that he would consider five shots and a couple beers as "not drinking." He was even rumored to show up to the occasional practice and game tanked. Thankfully for Ferland, he caught himself before it was too late and turned to former head coach Bob Hartley, and ex-teammate Brian McGratten for help. Now three years sober, he has become a valuable member to the Flames -- slotting in on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. He protects the stars but also has been putting up respectable numbers as well. Had Ferland not been able to cleanse himself of his commanding addiction, who knows if he would remain in the NHL.
10 Todd Fedoruk
Former Philadelphia Flyer Todd Fedoruk fell victim to an aggressive alcohol addiction for the better part of his career. As a teenager, he would frequently binge drink and even had the Flyers give him an ultimatum after drafting him: quit drinking or have your contract terminated. This resulted in the grinder being sober for six years before eventually relapsing during his tenure with the Minnesota Wild. However, this time his substance abuse had worsened and he developed a love for cocaine. After finally coming to his senses and deciding that he doesn't "want to fight this fight anymore," he entered the NHL's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in 2010 and completed it. Not all NHL enforcers who battle addiction have the same result as Fedoruk did, so it was definitely nice to see one be able to turn things around.
9 Jarret Stoll
A once-productive player in the NHL for many years, two-time Stanley Cup winner Jarret Stoll was a player many teams would've liked to have on their roster. Notching 68 points in 82 games with the Edmonton Oilers in the 05-06 season, he enjoyed a successful career in the NHL. However, in the summer of 2015, he was busted for possession of cocaine and ecstasy in a Las Vegas hotel room. It wasn't long after being caught that Stoll had signed a one-year deal with the New York Rangers; however, after only 29 games and 3 points, the Rangers opted to waive the gritty forward, in which he was claimed by the Minnesota Wild. Unfortunately, at the season's end, he was unable to land a contract. Maybe the drugs slowed him down or maybe he was just past his prime, we'll never know.
As of 2016, Stoll's now a talent scout for the L.A. Kings organization.
8 Derek Sanderson
In 1972, Derek Sanderson was deemed the highest-paid athlete in the entire world. Winning two Stanley Cups, it was no surprise that Sanderson was a good player. However, after a devastating cut from the Vancouver Canucks roster, Sanderson began his three-year bender. Being what he calls an "anxious kid from Niagara Falls" Sanderson would drink out of fear. He said it all started when he gave a pretty-looking girl $1,500 and was tricked into being locked out of an apartment -- forcing him to sleep on a bench with nothing but a newspaper as a blanket. This was just the tip of the iceberg, as he became homeless; sleeping in boxes and eating out of dumpsters. Before becoming homeless, he was often indulging in substances such as barbiturates, cocaine, prednisone, valium, and essentially anything he could get his hands on before ultimately going to rehab and completing his program.
Today, he is a financial advisor for athletes.
7 Mike Ribeiro
Remember when Mike Ribeiro was a good hockey player in Dallas? It seems like it was a long time ago, but it really wasn't. After a couple trades and depleted confidence, Ribeiro began to develop a toxic lifestyle. Ribeiro admitted that instead of one glass of alcohol, he would have three and was living as if he were a single man -- when in reality, he had a wife and kids -- which is ultimately why he and his wife divorced, before eventually getting remarried. Having his contract bought out by the then Phoenix Coyotes, it appeared as though Ribeiro hit rock bottom. He started drinking heavier, smoking cigarettes and experimenting with a variety of drugs. It looked as though he was making a comeback when he signed a one-year deal with the Nashville Predators but he eventually was demoted to the minors and is now without work in the NHL.
6 Derek Boogaard
It was an extremely sad day to see Derek "Boogey Man" Boogard go out the way he did. An absolute terror on the ice, Boogaard was a beast and feared nobody on the ice, which showed in his rough-and-tough playing style. Because of this, he was frequently bitten by the injury bug, which resulted in him receiving copious amounts of pain killers. As he continuously began taking the pills to numb the pain, he eventually began to lose not only his personality but his love for the game he had since he was a mere boy. Former teammate John Scott was quoted as saying that Boogard's personality had "just left him," and he was just a "blank face." A truly tragic diminishing of a personality due to drug abuse.
In a sad discovery from Boogaard's autopsy, it was established that he had died from an overdose of oxycodone and alcohol. R.I.P. Boogey Man.
5 Bob Probert
Even when Bob Probert was a teenager playing junior hockey, he struggled with addiction -- going to rehab five times before the age of 22. It was no secret that one of the NHL's toughest enforcers was succumbed to arguably one of the league's most prominent cocaine addictions. His addiction was so severe that he invested roughly $42,000 a year on the substance early on in his career. Finishing with the fifth-most penalty minutes in NHL history, he began to numb the pain of the punches he took with the highly-addictive oxycontin. As a result of his heavy use of painkillers, he died from heart failure at the young age of 45. Truly a horrific accident for the hockey world; R.I.P. to one-half of the Bruise Brothers.
4 Grant Fuhr
A winner of five Stanley Cups, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and holder of various records, Grant Fuhr is one of the NHL's best goaltenders in history, being the first black NHL player to win a Cup and be inducted into the HHOF. With such success, many would've never guessed that he abused a substance -- what many believe was cocaine -- for roughly seven years. He ended up admitting he had a problem when he attended a Florida rehab facility back in 1990. This led to a one-year ban from the NHL for Fuhr issued by former NHL president John Ziegler, who was quoted saying that Fuhr's actions were "dishonorable and against the welfare of the league."
Once he returned from his suspension, fans of opposing teams sunk low as they taunted Fuhr with bags of sugar to replicate the substance that once controlled his life.
3 Theo Fleury
Theo Fleury has had a lot of tough experiences throughout his career as a hockey player. After being sexually abused by his junior coach, Graham James, for roughly two years, this eventually ignited his drinking problem and turned him into, as he says: a "raging, alcoholic lunatic." Because of his addiction, he ended up spending the bulk of his NHL earnings on drugs and alcohol; this led to him failing over 13 drug tests, but wasn't suspended due to the fact that the league didn't want to suspend such talent. And to make matters even more concerning, Fleury even admitted (in his book) to putting a gun to his head in a contemplation of committing suicide.
Nowadays, Fleury shares his stories as an addict as a motivational speaker, hoping that his stories can help sway people away from the wild lifestyle he once lived.
2 Darren McCarty
Darren McCarty, or as many like to call him, "Mac Jagger," was a hard-nosed, in-your-face kind of hockey player. Finding much success in the playoffs that led to the development of a "clutch" reputation, he instantly became a fan favorite in the Motor City. During his tenure, however, he constantly struggled with substance abuse -- confessing in his book that he tested positive for marijuana over 30 times while playing. McCarty classifies himself as a "weed and alcohol" guy, however, when available, McCarty would also dabble into the white liquor (cocaine) as an equalizer to sober him up.
He still suffers from a drinking problem to this day and classifies himself as a functioning alcoholic.
1 Mike Richards
Being drafted 24th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Mike Richards was an excellent hockey player ... keyword: was. After captaining the Philadelphia Flyers to a Stanley Cup Final, rumors were swirling around the power forward regarding his off-ice lifestyle -- which many believed led to him getting shipped to the Los Angeles Kings. He managed to hoist Lord Stanley's Cup twice with the Kings, playing a crucial role in both runs, but ultimately ended up having his contract terminated by the Kings due to his breach of contract when he was busted at the border with a controlled substance -- the substance being oxycodone. He signed a one-year deal with the Capitals last season but failed to impress, which is why he is retired from hockey now. Easily one of the more talented players to flush their career down the drain.
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