Although being a professional hockey player seems to be truly amazing, many players suffer through a lot of issues during and/or after their careers. The game of hockey is an extremely physical one so some players sadly suffer severe injuries that can end up changing the quality of their lives. In other instances, the world has seen players fall down a dark path, due to poor decision making. It is important to realize that hockey players are people too and possess characters flaws that can very well end up hurting them.
Through this article, we will be looking at a handful of players who went through an abundance of issues. Some are more severe than others, but it is important to note that all of them have caused significant changes to their lives. The main topics that will be seen through this are concussions and significant injuries, legal problems, alcohol and drug addiction, and even death. The patterns between enforcers and head injuries will be the most common correlation presented as well.
With all that said, here is a list of fifteen players who lost everything from the 2000s.
15 Marc Savard
Marc Savard will forever be noted as one of the most underrated playmakers to ever play in the NHL. During his career, he often was overlooked by many NHL fans even though he had a handful of seasons where he was in the top ten in both assists and points. At the beginning of his career, he was very much under the radar until he hit his stride as a player for the Atlanta Thrashers and later grew as a superstar for the Bruins.
However, his career was sadly cut short due to his numerous issues with concussions. This all started when he was blind side hit by former Pittsburgh Penguins winger Matt Cooke during the 2009-10 season. Although he would eventually come back the following season, he continued to feel symptoms from his concussion and later would receive the final blow from a hit by former teammate, Matt Hunwick. Savard sat out the rest of the 2011 season because of this and never played a game since. Although he had his name engraved on the cup, his concussion problems are still relevant today and make his life extremely difficult.
14 Steve Moore
Although Steve Moore had a short career, he had the potential to be a very solid two-way forward like his brother, Dominic Moore. Before playing professionally, Moore had a strong college career playing for Harvard University. When he brought his talents to the NHL, he became a very steady, checking forward for the Avalanche and found moderate success. However, Moore is often remembered for the tragic incident that ended his career, rather than his success.
During the 2003-04 season, Moore was jumped from behind by former Vancouver Canucks forward Todd Bertuzzi, which resulted in both a serious concussion and three fractured neck vertebrae. Throughout the season, Moore was a target of the Canucks behind he had injured their captain, Markus Naslund, with a very dangerous hit. After this injury, Moore never played in the NHL again and has noted that he still feels the effects today, both physically and mentally.
13 Derek Boogaard
Derek Boogaard was by far the most intimidating enforcer during the mid to late 2000s due to his enormous size and tenacious style of play. Although he never was a player who was a threat to put up significant points, he was a fan favorite during his stints in both Minnesota and New York because he was the ultimate team player. He always had the ability to change the tempo of a game with his big hits and fights.
In the summer after his lone season with the Rangers, Boogaard suddenly passed away at the age of 28 to an accidental overdose of alcohol and oxycodone, which was distributed by his brother, Aaron. His death was a complete shock to the hockey world as he was still in the prime of his career and appeared to have many years left in the tank. Interestingly, Boogaard also was diagnosed with CTE, like many enforcers, following his death and if still alive, he would have faced many issues such as midlife dementia.
12 Dany Heatley
During the 2000s, Dany Heatley was one the best snipers in the NHL. From the start, Heatley dominated the NHL with his elite goal scoring and won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie. His skill made hockey relevant in Atlanta during his stint there, but off ice decisions started his downfall. Before the 2003-04 season, Heatley was speeding in a 35 MPH zone and crashed. The impact of the crash killed his teammate Dan Snyder.
Shortly after this, Heatley asked to be traded out of Atlanta because of the guilt he felt. He found success once he was traded to Ottawa, but the guilt of the death of Snyder seemed to linger throughout his career. After short stints with San Jose and Minnesota, Heatley's play completely diminished and he could not redeem his career during his very brief time in Anaheim. He spent the 2015-16 season playing in Germany, but spent this past season as a free agent. Heatley's off-ice antics truly hindered him from reaching and maintaining his full potential as an NHL player.
11 Darren McCarty
Although Darren McCarty did not dominate the score sheet as a player for the Detroit Red Wings, he was one of the key members of their illustrious core during the '90s and 2000s. He was admired in the city of Detroit, like many players of that era, for his toughness and marvelous fighting ability. As a member of the Red Wings, he was part of four Stanley Cup teams and played a huge role in the pursuit of them. His clutch playoff goals and numerous fighting tilts carried the Red Wings to their great success.
Off the ice, McCarty faced a lot of issues that impacted his play during the tail end of his career. He suffered severe issues with alcoholism and has stated many times that it began to ruin his life. His alcoholism not only impacted his play, but also his financial stability, as he filed for bankruptcy midway through his career. Although McCarty has faced some tough dilemmas during his career, he managed to turn it around in 2008 when he won his last cup as Red Wing before retiring. That in itself is an achievement that should be acknowledged by all hockey fans.
10 Wade Belak
Like Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak will always be remembered for his toughness and physical play. He was a fan favorite with every team he played on, but his career will always be most remembered during his time playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2000 to 2008. He was a player who always embraced the press and was not afraid of putting himself in the limelight, even if it was not for his actual play. A prime example of this was the humor he would show in video bits such as his "tryout" to make the Maple Leafs top line.
Although he was a very down to earth, Belak shockingly took his life during the 2011 offseason. It had been reported by his family after his death that he had suffered from depression throughout his career and was on prescribed medication to try to moderate it. Although Belak never had much success in the offensive side of the game, he made an immense impact on the sport because of the effort and leadership he provided each game. He is still truly missed by the NHL community.
9 Marek Svatos
Marek Svatos was a speedy winger who is often remembered for his tenure in Colorado. He saw most of his success during the opening years of his career and even put up a respectable 32 goals during the 2005-06 season with the Avalanche. However, he was never able to match that success and his play continued to worsen as the years passed. He played his last NHL season in 2010-11 with both the Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators before playing in Europe until 2014.
The sudden decline in his play was definitely a bit random to fans, as he was still very young when it started. In 2016, Svatos suddenly passed away at the age of 34 to the surprise of many NHL fans. After an autopsy, it was revealed that he had died due to a mixed drug overdose. It had been reported that he had struggled with both addiction and depression for quite some time.
8 Mike Ribeiro
Like Savard, Mike Ribeiro has always had a fairly underrated career. For almost two decades, Ribeiro has quietly put up many solid seasons that saw him be above average in both assists and points. With this, he has also found ways to be provide physicality to the game, even though he is small in stature. As a player, Ribeiro has always found ways to shine on the ice and be one of the most dangerous players out there.
Yet, Ribeiro's off ice antics have completely annihilated his career. It has been known for quite some time that Ribeiro suffers from alcoholism. He had a relapse of the issue this season and it was what caused him to be cut by the Predators. This has been a common problem with Ribeiro throughout his career and what has led him to the position he is in today.
7 Rick Rypien
Rick Rypien was another player on this list who primarily was an agitator. He never succeeded offensively, but he was often considered as a hardworking teammate. Although he was on the shorter end, in terms of NHL standards, he was extremely physical and was known for his fighting ability and bodychecking. This made him well-respected by Canucks fans.
After signing a contract with the Winnipeg Jets during the 2011 offseason, Rypien committed suicide. It had been documented that he had sufferered from severe depression and his teammates worked together to try to help him. His and Belak's suicides led the NHL to gain more awareness of the correlation between head injuries and depressions.
6 Stephen Peat
Stephen Peat was another enforcer in the NHL who did not have a spectacular career. He is primarily remembered for his brief time playing for the Washington Capitals during the pre-Ovechkin era. His fighting ability was very strong, but as a player, he lacked any real amount of skill.
His life fell apart soon after he hung up the skates during the late 2000s. Peat became dependent on both drugs and alcohol to help moderate his severe headaches. This led him to develop depression and start committing a handful of crimes. Most notably, he burned his own house down and even stated that he wished he was inside. Today, he is working on his issues, but still is in agony over the headaches he feels consistently.
5 Ian White
Ian White was a steady, two-way defenseman during his time in the NHL. He produced solid numbers offensively as a defender, but also was hard nosed one the defensive end. He is most remembered for his time playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the mid to late 2000s, as well as being one of the pieces that was sent to Calgary in the infamous Dion Phaneuf trade. The rest of his career following this was adequate at best and he found himself out of an NHL job fairly quickly.
Like many players on this list, White seemed to lose himself once his career was dwindling. He began to use drugs frequently and found himself arrested shortly after his retirement due to multiple gun offenses. Following his arrest, he entered himself into rehab to work on his opioid addiction and struggles with depression. Although he lost control of his life for a short while, he is now continuously working to improve on it.
4 Dan LaCouture
Dan LaCouture is a player from the 2000s who many people may forget, but he was another strong enforcer. He was a journeyman who never seemed to find a secure place in the NHL, but his physical presence on the ice was always something opposing players had to worry about. Like many other players who played with this style, he suffered from many concussions and still feels the effects today.
Following his playing career, LaCouture grew a dependency on painkillers and alcohol to help assist with his symptoms from previous concussions. This is clearly a common theme with these players due to the trauma they faced during their careers. His drug and alcohol use has also led him to be in trouble numerous times with the law. His anger toward his head injuries also led him to file a lawsuit against the league for not taking this type of trauma more seriously.
3 Dale Purinton
Dale Purinton is another enforcer on this list who lost control of his life following his career. Purinton is mostly remembered for his time associated with the New York Rangers. However, like many enforcers, his time in the NHL was fairly short and he finished his playing career bouncing around the AHL. Dale Purinton is another enforcer on this list who lost control of his life following his career. He was not a prominent goal scorer or even skilled, but he played in an era where toughness was just as important.
Today, Purinton also suffers from consistent headaches and has indicated that it is a huge burden on his life. He himself went through multiple concussions during his NHL career due to his style of play. His life also got far worse due to the fact that he was arrested for assault and burglary. He spent time in maximum security prison for his crimes, but reluctantly is working on fixing his issues today.
2 Paul Kariya
Paul Kariya will always be remembered for his spectacular career in Anaheim and overall skill as a player. He was the face of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks during their opening seasons in the NHL and was the key member that led them to the 2003 Stanley Finals. His amazing slap shot goal during the series is by far one of the most remembered clips of all of the 2000s. Although not in the Hall of Fame, he ended his career averaging a point per game, which is a rare feat.
Kariya's career however was sadly cut short due to his issues with concussions. He continuously worked hard on trying to make a return to the league, but in 2011, he was forced by medical professionals to call it quits. Today, Kariya is an advocate on head injuries in hockey, but has seemed to move away from the NHL side of it. It has been noted that he is angry by the way the league handles head injuries so this very well could be why. Nonetheless, if not for injuries, Kariya very well could have played a few more seasons.
1 Pavol Demitra
Pavol Demitra was one of the most influential European players to ever play in the NHL. He was beloved by many players and fans because he played the game respectfully and work exceptionally hard. He was a bit of a journeyman during his career in the NHL, but he was often a fan favorite nonetheless. He had a lot of success offensively in the NHL and is ranked fifth all time in points by a Slovakian.
Following the 2010 season, he moved to the KHL to play for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Before the start of his second season there, tragedy struck for him and his team when they got into a plane crash. Demitra and all of his teammates died from the crash. The hockey world was truly saddened by this because, as previously stated, Demitra was one of the best European players to ever play in the NHL.
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