Hockey players have always held themselves to a higher standard based on principles that may sound cliche, but are heartfelt and real. They relate to their fans because the great majority play the game and live their lives with humility, hard work, and loyalty. Whether a player is a first line All Star making over $8 million a year or a 4th line winger on a minimum, 2 way contract, they play hard every night and sacrifice their body for teammates and wins.
To varying degrees of severity, players have fallen victim to temptation, drugs, sex, and stupidity. Some players destroyed their reputation and the “integrity” of the game by their on the ice actions such as diving or giving cheap shots. Others have made themselves and the league look bad by getting drunk or stoned and making terrible decisions. And still others have let demons take them over and spent time in jail.
These kids are sometimes taken from their homes as teenagers, or even younger. They board with families near a prep school or team where they forget who they are, and they join a “Lord of the Flies” like cult based on popularity and skill. It is here they navigate peer pressure, align themselves with cliques, and the roots of who they were as children are torn up like weeds and put in an overly demanding, cut throat league.
Few flourish, the majority fail. The confusion between morals, ideals, and real life collide. They believe the hype and often don’t live up to it. In their young minds, many suffer and scream silently for help. It’s often too late before players confront their off ice demons with the courage they face opponents on the ice, and therefore ruin their reputation and embarrass the league.
15. Claude Giroux Getting Crosschecked
On Canada Day in 2014, Giroux, a burgeoning star, had a few too many Canadian ‘Ginger-ales’. That led to foolishness and stupidity and he grabbed the butt of a male officer in Ottawa. Though he wasn’t formally charged, he spent the night in jail. The pictures and coverage cast a cloud over his reputation, but also marked a downward spiral on his production and an increase in injuries. It’s certainly fair to ask why, as a captain and sometimes dominant player, why he’s partying like a clown instead of working out and getting in shape for the season. An athlete’s window closes unexpectedly and quickly and there’s plenty of time to goof off after a career. Giroux is paid to produce, and if he doesn’t take the off season more seriously he’ll ultimately not fulfill his great promise.
14. Darcy Tucker Diving
Darcy Tucker was a hard hitting, gutsy player who was a fan favorite. He encompassed that workman like game so many fans and players appreciate. He was also a player who could contribute offensively. But somewhere along the way, his game changed and he in many ways forced the league to look at diving. His antics were so overly dramatic and embarrassing that the league gave penalties for diving and even Toronto fans would scowl. He was infamously booed off the ice in one of the worst dives in NHL history, the helicopter, against the Philadelphia Flyers. Once he retired, the league continued to enforce the “Unsportsmanlike Conduct: 2 minutes, Diving” rule by publishing the player’s name.
13. Patrick Roy Facing Charges
NHL fans and the league woke up to domestic violence once again when one of the greatest goalies in the league was charged. Michele Roy called 911 because she was afraid of Patrick after an argument where he ripped doors off their hinges in their Colorado home. Michele wasn’t hurt, but he was arrested for misdemeanor criminal mischief and domestic violence. Roy had to appear in court and was issued a restraining order and was required to refrain from alcohol and drugs. Though he was never officially charged, the media ran with the story. The images of him slouched and embarrassed in court almost became as frequent of those lifting the Stanley Cup. Roy would again embarrass the NHL after ordering his son to fight in a junior game, making his son Jonathan hit opposing goalie Bobby Nadeau. Hardly the image the NHL would want of a Hall of Famer.
12. Evander Kane Flaunting It
It’s hard to say whether Evander Kane was insulting the NHL, his fellow players or his fans the most in this picture. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with a young man who happens to be a millionaire enjoying his fortune in a city like Las Vegas, this picture had terrible timing. Kane took this picture during the 2012-13 lockout when the NHL and NHLPA were both claiming that they weren’t getting enough of a revenue share in the NHL. Then in comes Kane flashing his money while about to enjoy a night on the town in Vegas. While this was terribly embarrassing for the two sides in the CBA, the people insulted the most were fans, who had to read about millionaires and billionaires fighting over money, then see this.
11. Ryan O’Reilly Crashes Tim’s
In many ways, O’Reilly has caused problems and burned bridges in the NHL. His career started in Colorado but no contract was big enough to satisfy him. He capitalized on his “potential” and signed a monster deal in Buffalo. He exploited his persona as a player who plays hard to get paid like a top line star, but is really just a second line center. However, he parties like a first liner and crashed his vintage 1951 green Chevrolet pickup truck into a Tim Hortons Coffee/Doughnut shop. Two men were seen leaving the scene and O’Reilly and another man were arrested. But eyewitnesses changed their account and what do you know, he and the NHL skated away undamaged. How exactly did he possibly get off on that one?
10. Ed Belfour Has A Few Too Many
Ed Belfour, another star goalie, Cup champ and Hall of Famer, was arrested in 2000 after a drinking binge. He and “a woman” checked into an upscale hotel but she became frightened and called security. After she was escorted to a taxi, one of the guards confronted Belfour and he lost it. The Eagle threw a 50-year-old against a wall and put him in a headlock. He continued to fight until police arrived, and after he resisted arrest they were forced to pepper spray him. When they finally had him in the police car, he spit at them and vomited. But The Eagle wasn’t done and tried to bribe the officers, offering $1 billion that he didn’t have.. He ended up spending six hours in jail, and though it was another black eye on the game the league refused to set an example and punish him.
9. Joe Corvo Following Assault Charges
In 2002, Joe Corvo was eating and drinking with teammates and friends at a bar in Boston. For whatever reason, he started groping a woman and was kicked out. But he “returned to the ice” and punched her in the face and kicked her in the ribs. Corvo, with fewer majors than Crosby, ran from the attack but was eventually caught by the long arm of the law. He was arrested and charged with indecent assault, battery, and battery with a dangerous weapon. Corvo went on to play in the NHL until the 2013-14 season but this always remained a very embarrassing incident for him and the NHL. Suddenly, hockey players aren’t looking so good after seeing some of these stories pop up.
8. Tie Domi Fighting A Fan
In many ways, the cartoon character named Tie Domi made the NHL look like a goon league and began the fury to eliminate fighting. His vicious cheap shot on Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Neidermayer at the end of a playoff game was nasty and introduced the phrase “intent to injure.” He sucker punched Ulf Samuelsson (which many players and fans didn’t mind so much), took on an over zealous Flyer fan (ditto the feelings of fans and players), but disgraced the league and it’s image. He was also the first to try and humiliate others in a fight. Though he lost more fights than he won, in one memorable season he bettered Bob Probert and motioned with his hands that he deserved a heavyweight belt. He made a career of losing fights, embarrassing himself and the game, and eventually will be the reason the job he exploited will be banned.
7. Semyon Varlamov In Court
Varlamov, the oft injured and scored upon goalie of the Avalanche, is used to wearing masks, but on the eve of Halloween in 2013, he was also arrested for domestic violence. The charges were 2nd degree kidnapping and 3rd degree assault concerning his girlfriend. A month later, Varlamov was formally charged and faced two years in jail, but like most pucks fired his way the charges missed him. The case had too many holes and Varlamov is still playing in Colorado. Eventually Varlamov was cleared of all charges and was even awarded money in a civil case, however the opposition’s attorney Olaf Muller said his client planned to appeal the verdict, saying:
“We believe that this trial result would have been completely different had the court not issued a series of rulings, big and small, that completely hamstrung our ability to effectively present our case,” he said in an email to The Associated Press. “Perhaps most significantly, the court ordered us not to present any evidence whatsoever relating to prior instances of domestic violence and abuse by Mr. Varlamov.”
6. Brad Marchand Taking Partying Too Far
Okay, so it’s normal for young men to party when celebrating an achievement, but Brad Marchand seemed to take things to a whole new level after the Boston Bruins won the 2011 Stanley Cup. Truthfully, we could have taken just about dozens of Brad Marchand pictures and pasted them in here, but we had to settle for just one. The good news is those days seem to be behind Marchand as he’s taken hockey a lot more seriously in recent years and has grown up a lot. Sure, he still is a pest on the ice, but he’s matured a lot overall and it’s good to know that these days seem to be in his past. The party has to end eventually and the work has to take its place.
5. Patrick Kane Arrested
One of the biggest stars in the league has also embarrassed the NHL more than once. Strike 1 came in 2009 when he was charged with robbery and beating up a cab driver for less than a dollar. Then, strike 2 came when the explosive winger got the “Led” out while partying in Wisconsin. Strike 3 occurred when a woman accused him of rape in Buffalo. So I guess 3 Cups, 3 rings, and plenty of goals is more important than disciplining a player with no respect for others.
Hopefully the NHL will get serious about a player’s behavior before a player causes reprehensible harm. Hockey is catching up to other sports in terms of letting skilled players who give the fans and league what they want, get away with what they want.
4. Slava Voynov In Court
Voynov was a young, skilled defenseman who was a key member of the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. He shocked the team and the league in October 2014 after he was charged with domestic violence. Since then, his once promising career has fallen apart as he was suspended and essentially expelled from the league. His wife said that Voynov did not intentionally injure her and she requested he not be charged. However, he was sentenced to 90 days in prison and after getting out of jail, Voynov was brought to U.S. Immigration and Customs. He put the NHL in the undesirable position of admitting to a growing number of young players getting in serious trouble, and Voynov returned to Russia to play in the KHL,
3. Kevin Stevens
Kevin Stevens’ life and career was defined by extremes. He found immediate success with the Penguins as a prototypical power forward. While he recorded 726 points in 874 career games, there were signs of an addiction to alcohol and drugs throughout his career. The NHL seemed to turn the other cheek but in 2000, he was arrested for possession of cocaine. He went to rehab and attempted a comeback, but never regained his scoring touch. After retiring, the Penguins hired him as a scout, but he was unable to stay clean. Stevens was arrested for drug possession and attempting to distribute oxycodone. He was one of the first high profile players to publicly face drug addiction, but it seems as the past few years have been good for him as he tries to live a positive life.
2. Andrew Peters
Andrew Peters, an ex Sabre who followed in Domi’s footsteps, lost complete control of his temper as a coach of a youth hockey team, the Buffalo Junior Sabres. There was a confrontation on the ice in front of his bench between his 15 and under team and the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs. Players from the Sabres’ bench got involved and Peters shoved a Hamilton player onto the ice. The police were called but charges weren’t filed. Peters was suspended, the Bulldog player was okay, but the 6’4″ and 250 pound man tarnished his and the sports image. It’s safe to say that Peters probably won’t be coaching an NHL team ever, as an incident like this is impossible to overlook when looking for head coaches.
1. Mike McBain Stands Trial For A Heinous Act
It’s going to be tough to leave the heinous and nauseating case of Mike McBain off any such list. The 30th overall pick by Tampa Bay in 1995 played in only 64 games but his crime will forever stigmatize himself and the league. His arrest in 2012 shocked the NHL. He was charged with nine counts of sexual assault of a minor and sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl between 2008 and 2012 while impersonating a teammate. McBain fled, tried to commit suicide, but then turned himself in and pleaded guilty. He was sentenced to four to 15 years and was ordered to register for lifetime supervision as a sex offender. Though his actions should have signaled to all sports that the leagues have to monitor players’ actions, the four major leagues still turn a negligent, blind eye.
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