Being an NHL player (or any pro athlete for that matter) is a goal that thousands and thousands of children have. You get to travel around the country, play a sport you love and make millions and millions of dollars. Also, you get to potentially become a famous individual with fans all over the world. So while this sounds outstanding and a great life to live, some people have thrown it all away because of stupid decisions or stupid actions they have made throughout their lives.
Over the years, many players have done things on and off the ice that have led to them ruining their careers. Whether it was drugs, abuse, assault or a range of other things, many people have thrown their livelihoods away because of one (or a few) stupid mistakes. Of course, they didn’t know that this bad decision would ruin their careers, but for the 15 men on this list, it most certainly did.
So without any further ado, here are 15 NHLers who ruined their promising careers by doing something incredibly stupid.
15. Jarret Stoll
For a long time, Jarret Stoll was a player that several different fans would have wanted on their team. He won the Stanley Cup two times and was a solid scorer. He enjoyed a pretty solid career, but that all came crashing down for him in a big way back in 2015. He was busted for possession of ecstasy and cocaine in a Las Vegas hotel room. He still played in the NHL after the arrest, but he was not productive at all and bounced around a few teams before calling it a career and retiring. He now works for the LA Kings as a talent scout, but it is a shame that his NHL career ended in the way that it did. Who knows how many other times he had drugs in his hotel room
14. Kevin Stevens
While he isn’t mentioned too much in the present day, Kevin Stevens was one of the best hockey players of the early 1990s. While not at the level of your Mario Lemieuxs or Mark Messiers, Stevens was a solid contributor for his team. Twice he put up 50 goals two separate times and scored over 1,000 points two times as well. However, despite all his attention and skill, he didn’t have more than a few solid and productive seasons in the NHL. This is largely because of his off the ice issues, mainly his struggles with drugs throughout his career. In fact, after a game in 1999, he was found at a motel with an escort and some crack cocaine. He retired in 2002 but still hasn’t been able to escape his demons as he was charged with possession with intent to distribute oxycodone.
13. Todd Bertuzzi
To this day, what Bertuzzi did to Steve Moore is still one of the most despicable acts we have ever seen in an NHL game. Early in the 2004 season, Steve Moore delivered a headshot to Markus Naslund, and Bertuzzi was out for revenge. After Moore wouldn’t fight Bertuzzi, Bertuzzi took it into his own hands and sucker punched him in the back of the head, which resulted in Moore fracturing his spine. Bertuzzi was suspended for the rest of the year and was even brought up on criminal charges. Before the incident, Bertuzzi was among the best players in the NHL and was scoring at a high clip for the Vancouver Canucks. After the long suspension, he stayed in the NHL but was never close to becoming the player he once was ever again.
12. Jere Karalahti
While this Finnish player only played about four seasons in the NHL, he definitely belongs on this list. He was drafted in the 6th round of the NHL draft in 1993, but is better known for his time in Finland or with the Finnish national team during the World Hockey Championships. Karalahti has struggled with everything you could imagine including alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, heroin and more. While he tried on several occasions to kick the habit, he couldn’t. He even had alleged ties to a Finnish gang and was involved with an international drug smuggling ring. He has continued to play hockey in Finland up to around a year ago, but his career in the NHL got cut short due to his inability to stay away from drugs. Sadly, his drug issues followed him away from the NHL into the future and have plagued him for many years.
11. Raffi Torres
Raffi Torres is one of those guys that most people like to have on their teams, but absolutely hate playing against. He was an aggressive and feisty player, but proved himself to be a valuable power forward on numerous successful teams and came within a game of winning the Stanley Cup on two separate occasions. However, most people simply remember him as a goon who laid questionable hits and was a bit of an instigator. This only got so much worse when, in 2015, he was suspended 41 games for a dirty headshot on Jakob Silfverberg. He was eventually traded away, but retired before he ever played another game. He will always be remembered as a dirty player, despite his actual ability to contribute on the ice, and it’s all because of this hit and others like it.
10. Ian White
For a few years, Ian White looked like a promising young defender for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was talented on both ends of the ice and looked like he could be a future star. However, he wasn’t without his issues. He had a few arrests for DUI and driving without a license during his career, but his massive problems began once he found himself out of the league. He spiraled out of control and could no longer support his lavish lifestyle, which resulted in him beginning to allegedly abuse drugs. He also was arrested for having a loaded gun with him. While he doesn’t have a lengthy criminal record, there are also rumblings that he had some involvement in organized crime in Manitoba as well.
9. Slava Voynov
This was a shocking one as Slava Voynov was a very good player for the Los Angeles Kings and was going to be an instrumental part of their future. After winning a Stanley Cup with the team in 2014 and got a giant six-year contract worth over $25 Million. However, his life and career were about to change forever. He was arrested that same year for domestic violence after it was revealed that he attacked his wife in a brutal fashion. His wife plead for him to be forgiven, but that is not how arrests and cases like this work. He was sent back to Russia, and now plays hockey over there. He will likely never be allowed back into the USA and basically lost his entire career in the NHL because of one horrific event.
8. Mike Ribeiro
A few years ago, Ribeiro was a talented and contributing player for the Dallas Stars. He was doing just about everything you could ask from a player. However, after a little bit of a confidence issue and being traded, his life began to spin in a downward spiral. He was downing many drinks a night and living like a bachelor, all the while having a wife and kids. Eventually, he hit rock bottom and started drinking extremely heavy, started smoking and even began to use drugs. He signed a deal with the Predators after he cleaned up his act, but by then, he wasn’t the player he used to be and was released. He is currently without a job and is likely done with the NHL.
7. Bob Probert
Probert was one of the most notorious tough guys in NHL history but for as ferocious as he was on the ice, he is better known by many for his many struggles off the ice. In fact, he is noted as one of the most prominent examples of hockey players with addictions. Even before he was in the NHL, he went to rehab numerous times and once he got into the NHL (and started making more money) his addiction only got worse. In fact, during his early years in the NHL, it is said he spent more than $40,000 a year on his cocaine addiction. He then went on to abuse painkillers, which ultimately led him to pass away due to a heart attack when he was only 45 years old. While he was a legend for his toughness and tenacity on the ice, it is hard to ignore his rampant drug addiction throughout his career.
6. Mike Richards
There is no doubting that Mike Richards was a bonafide superstar during his time for the Philadelphia Flyers. He was given a massive contract and was to be the face of the franchise. However, he was surprisingly dealt to the Los Angeles Kings after the team became tired of his constant partying off of the ice. He went on to do well with the Kings, (though his scoring totals dropped quite a bit) even winning a few Stanley Cups, but his partying never stopped. In 2016, he was arrested on the Canadian/American border when he was in possession of drugs and his career ended soon after. If he was able to dial back the partying and drug use, Richards could still be one of the best players in the league.
5. Darren McCarty
McCarty was a clutch scorer in the playoffs but is definitely more known for his fighting and toughness as a member of the Red Wings. He was a fan favorite and was loved in the city of Detroit. In addition to his skill and tenacity on the ice, he was also known for his somewhat destructive life off of it. Throughout his career, he frequently abused marijuana, alcohol, and cocaine. In fact, he said that he tested positive for weed around 30 times. He struggled with substance abuse for most of his career and also owed hundreds of thousands to casinos as a result of his gambling problem. He has since retired from hockey but says he still struggles with alcohol abuse and calls himself a functioning alcoholic.
4. Derek Boogaard
When he was on the ice, Derek Boogaard was scared of no one and was about as tough as they come. While he wasn’t a great scorer, he kept a job because of this tough guy role. However, this role led him to be injured a lot, which led to him taking a lot of painkillers. Soon, this developed into an addiction. The pills took over his life and turned him into a zombie, void of any love for the game or personality. After a prolonged period of this drug abuse problem, Boogaard actually ended up passing away due to a drug overdose. He overdosed on a combination of alcohol and oxycodone. He was very young when he passed and was still capable of playing, but the drugs just took over his life.
3. Theo Fleury
Fleury’s life was full of many different hardships and it was truly terrible to see. There is no doubting he was an outstanding hockey player (one of the best of all time, actually), but his many issues kept him from reaching his full potential as a player. First, it was revealed that he has been abused by a former coach, something that kickstarted his drinking problem. The drinking was soon joined by drugs and he ended up spending most of his NHL earnings on alcohol and drugs and even failed 13 drug tests throughout his NHL career. He now currently shares his stories as a motivational speaker and seems to be doing better, but there is no doubting his substance abuse ruined his career, at least compared to how good it could have been.
2. Grant Fuhr
When all is said an done, Grant Fuhr will likely go down as one of the best hockey goalies of all time. He is in the Hall of Fame and is the owner of an amazing five Stanley Cups. With all of this success, you wouldn’t have guessed that he abused drugs throughout almost the entirety of his career. For around seven years, Fuhr abused cocaine and didn’t admit it to anyone until he went to rehab in 1990 in Florida. He came back into the league and cleaned up eventually, but this was a huge shock to many when they heard about it. So while this didn’t ruin his career in terms of play, many people discredit a lot that he did due to the discovery of his longtime drug abuse, and it’s hard to argue that this didn’t hurt his legacy quite a bit.
1. Marty McSorley
McSorley was a very versatile player in the NHL and was a valued teammate of Wayne Gretzky at one time. However, there is one single event that overtakes anyone’s mind when you mention the name Marty McSorley. In 2000, during a game against the Vancouver Canucks, he swung his stick viciously at the head of Donald Brashear. Brashear was knocked unconscious and suffered a horrific concussion. He was given a lengthy suspension and was actually charged with assault. Simply put, this is one of the most hard-to-watch incidents in the history of the NHL and McSorley never played another single game after this incident.
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