Many people assume that all National Hockey League (NHL) players are great guys who are well-behaved, straight edge and donate to charity. While quite a few NHLers practice good manners on and off the ice, some others can be total jerks who don’t give a darn about what their teammates, coaches and significant others think of them. Sure, the unacceptable behavior could come from health concerns such as mental illnesses, physical injuries and even chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). However, it’s not acceptable to behave badly in public. Nice guys may finish last, but the careers of bad boys can end in the blink of an eye.
What’s worse than a horrible skater? A skater who’s a self-absorbed person. All men have emotions, but sometimes, it’s better to keep them inside of you and not let them interfere with your work. If an average Joe threw a temper tantrum or appeared drunk in a photo with other drunk homies, he would’ve already been fired from his job. It’s true that NHLers have a little bit of leeway, but there’s a line they must not cross unless if they want an early exit from the league.
Rules and laws aren’t meant to be broken, but some people break them anyways. We’re going to take a closer look at 15 troubled players that the NHL would like us to forget about. From former Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll to the late Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Brian Spencer, we’re sure you’ll recognize some of the names on this list.
15. Devin Setoguchi
Devil Setoguchi was once a promising NHL prospect that a lot of people predicted would succeed in the big leagues. But did he really succeed?
He began his career with the defunct Crowsnest Pass Timberwolves of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) and the Saskatoon Blades of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He finished seventh in the league with 83 points in the 2005-06 season. He then joined the Prince George Cougars in the 2006-07 season.
Setoguchi got his big break with the San Jose Sharks, but his career lost momentum after he was sent back to the minors. He ended up drinking two 26-ounce bottles of Jameson in Glen Falls, New York, which eventually caused him to suffer a mental breakdown and a subsequent visit to rehab. He’s now sober and has signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Los Angeles Kings in the 2016-17 NHL season, but it looks like he’s not going to find any more work in the league. He currently plays for Adler Mannheim of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga.
14. Jarret Stoll
Jarret Stoll is a two-time Stanley Cup champion that many NHL teams would’ve liked to have on their rosters. He began skating for the Edmonton Oilers on a full-time basis in the 2003-04 season. He returned to the AHL as a Edmonton Roadrunner in the 2004-05 lock-out season. He returned to the Oilers in the 2005-06 season, where he won 21 of 22 faceoffs to set a new franchise record.
Stoll and Matt Greene were traded to the Kings for Lubomir Visnovsky in the 2008 offseason. He signed a four-year, $14.4 million contract with the Kings and went on to win two Stanley Cups with the successful franchise. However, he was busted for cocaine and MDMA possession at a pool party in the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada, and pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors. He briefly played for the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild before leaving the sport of hockey. He currently works as a scout for the Kings.
13. Mike Ribeiro
The Montreal Canadiens selected Mike Ribeiro in the second round with the 45th overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. However, the Canadiens traded Ribeiro and a sixth round draft pick in 2008 in exchange for Janne Niinimaa and a fifth round draft pick in 2007, just three months later. That unexpected change didn’t seem to affect Ribeiro as he had career high numbers in goals (27), assists (56) and points (83) along with his first NHL All-Star Game appearance with the Stars.
A couple more trades decreased Ribeiro’s confidence. He began drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes and experimenting with various drugs. He eventually hit rock bottom and was bought out by the Coyotes after the first year of his four-year contract. He tried to stage a comeback by signing a one-year contract with the Nashville Predators, only to be demoted to their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Today, he’s without work in the NHL and he disappeared over the summer, with his agent claiming he hasn’t spoken to his client in months.
12. Theo Fleury
No, Theo isn’t related to Marc-Andre Fleury. But there’s quite a story behind the former NHL right wing who played for the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers and Chicago Blackhawks.
Standing at 5’6″ and weighing 180 lbs, Theo was one of the smallest players of his generation. Despite his small frame, he played a physical style of hockey that often led to fights. He scored over 1,000 points in his professional career and won a Stanley Cup with the Flames in 1989. He won a gold medal representing Canada at the Winter Olympics in 2002. He went on to play in the British Elite Ice Hockey League in the 2005-06 season and made two attempts to win the Allan Cup.While he got a taste of success, his career was a nightmare—especially his Rangers years, where he’d spend long nights drinking alcohol and doing drugs. He tried to make a pro comeback with the Flames, but it was unsuccessful, which prompted him to retire in 2009.
11. Darren McCarty
Darren McCarty isn’t a household name and it’s doubtful that the NHL wants the general public to learn more about him, but he deserves to be mentioned in this list.
McCarty is best known for playing with the Detroit Red Wings. However, he was known more for his fist fights than his playing abilities. He also struggled with substance abuse, mainly alcohol and weed, but he has also dabbled in cocaine. Despite the negativity surrounding him, he found success in the league, winning four cups with the Red Wings in 1997, 1998, 2002 and 2008. He tried to make a comeback with the Red Wings’ AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, but was released by the minor league team in July 2009. He officially announced his retirement on December 7, 2009.
10. Derek Sanderson
Derek Sanderson made a name for himself as a talented hockey center. He joined the Boston Bruins on a full-time basis in the 1967-68 season, recording 29 points (24 goals, 25 assists) and 98 penalty minutes. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year at the end of the season. He was also considered the highest paid athlete in the world after signing a $2.6 million contract with the Philadelphia Blazers of the World Hockey Association (WHA) in 1972.
After getting cut from the Vancouver Canucks, Sanderson went on a drinking spree. He reportedly gave a beautiful girl $1,500 and was fooled into being locked out of an apartment, which caused him to sleep on a bench with a newspaper as a blanket. After trying a wide variety of drugs, he became a homeless man who slept in boxes and searched dumpsters for leftovers.
9. Grant Fuhr
Without a doubt, Grant Fuhr is one of the NHL’s best goaltenders of all-time. He won five Stanley Cups. He’s also a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame with a plethora of various records to defend his superiority. Being the first black NHLer to win Lord Stanley was one of those records.
Not a whole lot of people would’ve guessed that Fuhr abused the white powder for about seven years. He ultimately confessed that he had a substance abuse problem when he checked himself into a rehab facility in Florida in 1990. As a result, former NHL president John Ziegler handed him a one-year ban, saying that his actions were dishonorable and against the welfare of the league.
Fuhr returned to the NHL following his ban. However, a lot of hockey fans stooped so low that they screamed out insults and brought bags of sugar to replicate the substance that he was once addicted to.
8. Ryan Malone
Ryan is the son of former NHL center Greg Malone. He wore No. 12 as his jersey number in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in honor of his father. However, he gave up No. 12 before the 2010-11 season to left wing Simon Gagné and wore No. 6 instead. He was also the first Pittsburgh native to play for the Penguins.
Things took a turn in 2014 as Ryan was arrested in Tampa, Florida, after allegedly making a left turn from the center lane and striking a curb. He was charged with driving under the influence and possession of cocaine. He later admitted to being an alcoholic and drug addict.
Ryan played just six games for the New York Rangers before telling the team that he wasn’t interested in playing in the Big Apple anymore. After a two-year break from playing hockey, he signed a PTO agreement with the Minnesota Wild on August 31, 2017. Talk about being unable to make up his mind.
7. Bob Probert
Bob Probert is best known for being one half of the Bruise Brothers alongside former right wing Joe Kocur. On the ice, he was deemed as a tough guy who played both roles of a enforcer and a fighter. Off the ice, he was a very troubled man who went to rehab five times before the age of 22. Not only was he hooked on cocaine, the illegal drug also got the best of him. He got arrested for possession of drugs at the Detroit-Windsor border in 1989. After serving time in a federal prison and a halfway house, he was suspended indefinitely by the NHL. He appealed the league’s decision and returned to the Detroit Red Wings, but he continued to make headlines for getting in trouble with the law.
Probert died of a heart attack at the age of 45 in 2010. His family donated his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute. The following year, Boston University researchers announced that he suffered from CTE. What a tragedy.
6. Derek Boogaard
Derek Boogaard was another NHLer who suffered from both drug addiction and CTE. He received the nicknames “Boogeyman” and “The Mountie” because of his fighting abilities. He was placed in the Louisiana IceGators of the ECHL to close out the 2002-03 season, recording three points (one goal, two assists) with a team-high 240 penalty minutes.
Remember when Boogaard knocked out fellow enforcer Todd Fedoruk? This violent incident sparked a debate over increasing the punishment for fighting in the NHL. Almost nobody wanted to mess with him on the ice after that. However, he wasn’t much of a tough guy off the ice. The injury bug hit him multiple times, which led team doctors to frequently prescribe him tons of prescription medications. Not only did he develop an addiction to the medications, he also struggled with post-concussion syndrome.
Boogaard died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and Oxycodone at the young age of 28 in 2011. Three years later, Jordan Hart was arrested for selling Percocet to Boogaard. He was sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.
5. Craig MacTavish
Craig MacTavish is known for being the final NHL player to not wear a helmet during games. That apparently had an effect on him back then. While playing for the Boston Bruins, he got involved in a notorious brawl between some of his fellow teammates and a group of New York Rangers fans in 1979 and was convicted of vehicular homicide in 1984. He struck and killed 26-year-old Kim Radley in Peabody, Massachusetts, while driving under the influence of alcohol. Radley died four days later. As a result, local authorities sentenced him to a one-year imprisonment, where he watched most of the hockey games on television.
MacTavish later returned to the NHL and won four Stanley Cups (three with the Edmonton Oilers, one with the Rangers). He became an assistant for the Rangers just days after announcing his retirement. He made 25 studio appearances as a hockey commentator for TSN.
4. Brian Spencer
Brian Spencer was born to be a hockey player. He spent 10 seasons in the NHL, where he played for the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins. Initially, the Leafs drafted him in the fifth round with the 55th overall pick in the 1969 NHL Entry Draft.
Brian died in a similar situation like his father, Roy, who was fatally shot by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police after ordering the staff at CKPG-TV to broadcast the Maple Leafs game instead. After retiring from hockey, Brian plunged into a life revolving around alcohol and violence. He was charged with kidnapping and murder in 1987. He faced the death penalty, but was later acquitted by a judge. After the trial, he relocated to Florida to change his life for the better, but was fatally shot during a robbery attempt. He died at the age of 38 in 1988.
3. Dany Heatley
Things looked up for Daniel “Dany” Heatley when the then-Atlanta Thrashers drafted him with their second overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. However, Dany requested a trade to the Ottawa Senators following a fatal car crash in 2003 that killed his close friend and Thrashers teammate Dan Snyder, who died from his injuries six days later. He pleaded guilty to speeding, failure to maintain a lane, and of course, second-degree vehicular manslaughter. He was then sentenced to three years of probation and ordered to give 150 speeches, and pay a $25,000 fine for the cost of investigating the crash.
Heatley was selected as the cover player for NHL 2004 by EA Sports. However, EA Sports changed the cover photo to Colorado Avalanche center Joe Sakic after the deadly car crash occurred.
2. Rob Ramage
Rob Ramage is another NHLer that you don’t want to look up to.
Ramage enjoyed a lengthy career in hockey-playing 15 seasons with the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Blues, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota North Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL, and one season with the Birmingham Bulls of the World Hockey Association (WHA).
Yet, Ramage was found guilty of all counts in 2003 for the death of former Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Keith Magnuson in a terrifying car crash. He also caused injuries to the driver of the Pathfinder. He was sentenced to four years in jail, but was granted parole in 2014.
Ramage has worked as a broker at the Clayton, Missouri, branch of Wachovia Securities, and an assistant coach for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). He currently works as a player development coach for the Canadiens.
1. Steve Durbano
Steve Durbano’s larger than life persona allowed fans to hand him the nickname “Mental Case.” After all, he’s the NHL’s all-time leader in penalty minutes (1127) over 220 games. Simply put, he amassed approximately 5.12 penalty minutes per game. His vicious behavior on the ice certainly had an effect on those games.
Durbano also showed off his despicable ways as a criminal. As a new retiree, he was linked to an infamous scheme to smuggle $500,000 worth of white powder into Canada, and was sentenced to seven years in jail. Shortly after his release, he was arrested for shoplifting, and later faced a third arrest for running a prostitution ring in Welland, Ontario.
After a while, Durbano moved to the Northwest Territories as an attempt to find peace and serenity. He died from liver cancer at the age of 50 in 2002. Hopefully, he found peace in the afterlife.
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