There are much more NFL and NBA players who have received prison sentences for despicable crimes ranging from drug possession to domestic violence, but there are also some NHL players who are just as defective. You may not believe this fact, but there are good and bad people in all professional sports leagues, including NHL players. Don’t let a youthful-looking face, a mega-watt smile and a sexy smirk fool you. Not all NHL players are saints.
If you take a look at the posts on social media, you’ll see that there are plenty of nice NHL players, but that’s not the complete truth. The media just makes it seem like the league and its players are all goody-two shoes. We don’t know the exact reasons why, but we think it’s because they don’t want to be a turn off to the viewers, who might stop tuning into hockey altogether. That would result in a decrease the league’s television ratings, which is a bad thing. Nobody wants their ratings to decrease due to constant negativity.
As you scroll through this list, you may or may not recognize some of these names. The infamous NHL players include former Los Angeles Kings defenseman Slava Voynov to retired Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers enforcer Patrick Cote. They’re not people that you would want to look up to as role models. They’re nothing but bad guys who bring others down.
Let’s take a look at 15 NHL players with prison sentences that will shock you.
15. Slava Voynov
Slava Voynov currently plays for the SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), but the former Los Angeles Kings defenseman learned his lesson the hard way in 2014 after getting arrested for domestic violence charges on his wife Marla Varlamova.
The NHL didn’t have a domestic violence policy at the time, but proceeded to justify the suspension they handed Voynov, who allegedly told his wife that he wanted a divorce, then kicked her during an altercation, according to a Redondo Beach Police report obtained by the Los Angeles Times.
In the end, Varlamova wrote a letter to local authorities, requesting to not charge her Voynov. Voynov was released from prison in September 2015 and was briefly detained by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) before returning to his native Russia.
14. Dustin Byfuglien
If you’re a big Winnipeg Jets fan, you should already know that alternate captain, forward and defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is an avid fisherman. But let’s not forget when Byfuglien was arrested and booked on suspicion of operating a motorboat on Lake Minnetonka about 15 miles west of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Byfuglien originally received a 30 day sentence and a $1,000 fine, but he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to just two days of community service instead of prison.
Imagine how Byfuglien would’ve felt if he had to serve 30 days for boating while intoxicated. That would’ve been extremely boring and embarrassing. The incident hasn’t stopped Byfuglien from enjoying fishing in his free time, but we wonder if he dares go ice fishing in the harsh winters of Winnipeg.
13. Dino Ciccarelli
Those who grew up in the 80s and 90s obviously remember former Minnesota North Stars (now Dallas Stars) right winger Dino Ciccarelli, who played 19 seasons in the NHL and was later inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2010. Ciccarelli was a tremendous player who has also drawn some controversy on and off the ice.
In 1987, Ciccarelli pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and received probation. The following year, Ciccarelli attacked Toronto Maple Leafs’ rookie defenseman Luke Richardson with a stick. As a result, Ciccarelli was convicted of assault, fined $1,000 and sentenced to one day in prison.
Of course, player safety is very important, but the league’s punishment of Ciccarelli was a bit over the top. We wonder what would have to happen for an NHL player to be sent to jail over an on-ice incident today.
12. Patrick Cote
When former left winger Patrick Cote played in the NHL, he wrecked more havoc on his career than on the ice as an enforcer.
So Cote never made much of an impact on the ice. He wasn’t the high-profile player the Dallas Stars, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers wanted.
Instead, Cote robbed two banks in Montreal, Quebec, stashed 30 pounds of marijuana in his car in Malone, New York, and even got shot by prison guards following a fight with a fellow in-mate at Donnocona Penitentiary.
11. Mike Danton
Apparently, Danton hired a hitman for $10,000 to kill a male acquaintance of 19-year-old Katie Wolfmeyer, who reportedly filed a criminal complaint in Illinois. Danton allegedly had an argument with the male acquaintance the week before.
“The acquaintance called Danton and asked Danton why he wanted to have him killed,” a court document said. “Danton broke down and sobbed. Danton explained that he felt backed into a corner and also felt that the acquaintance was going to leave him. Danton did not want to allow the acquaintance to leave him, therefore decided to have him murdered.”
10. Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger is now the Florida Panthers’ senior adviser of hockey operations, but he was also one of the NHL’s dirtiest players on (and off) the ice. He has been suspended eight times over on-ice incidents. This fact kind of overshadowed his on-ice successes such as his shutdown ability and his Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2007.
In 1994, the then-Hartford Whalers defenseman received a three-day prison sentence and was also fined $843 for driving under the influence in Ohio. That was a long sentence for a reported DUI, especially with a leader like him, but he had to serve it anyway.
9. Craig MacTavish
Craig MacTavish was noted as the last NHL player to not wear a helmet while on the ice. He also played for the big, bad Boston Bruins and took the adjectives a bit too seriously.
You see, MacTavish was unable to play in the 1984-85 NHL season after being convicted with vehicular manslaughter while driving under the influence. This shameful incident resulted in the loss of a young woman with a whole life ahead of her.
Despite the woman’s unexpected death, MacTavish was sentenced to just one year in prison. He reportedly watched the Bruins games on television in prison. After serving his sentence, he returned to the NHL, but was quickly traded to the Edmonton Oilers.
8. Tom McCarthy
As the No. 1 overall pick, Tom McCarthy surpassed NHL legend Wayne Gretzky in the 1977 Ontario Major Junior Hockey League (OMJHL) Midget Draft. Years later, McCarthy was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars with the No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the 1979 NHL Draft.
It seemed like McCarthy’s glamorous life as an NHL player wasn’t enough for him. He apparently had to live two lives, one that involved trafficking multiple banned substances, because the money from his NHL days was allegedly in meager amounts. As a result, he ended up receiving (and serving) a prison sentence of five and a half years at the United States’ Leavenworth Penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kansas. His punishment was fairly long for a drug charge.
7. Steve Durbano
Steve Durbano was commonly known as the “Mental Case” and rightfully so. He never seemed to stay out of trouble on and off the ice. He was more of a fighter who fought other enforcers and received a career-high 1,411 penalty minutes over the span of eight years.
After the hockey games, Durbano smuggled drugs in his spare time. He eventually got caught for drug smuggling in 1983 and subsequently received a seven-year prison sentence. He might’ve stopped drug smuggling, but he continued to get arrested for other crimes like drunk driving.
Durbano may not have received the longest prison sentence for drug smuggling, but he still served a seven-year sentence and that was quite a lot for an NHL player. He seemed to be nothing more than a punk who couldn’t stay out of trouble.
6. Rick Tocchet
Rick Tocchet is the current Arizona Coyotes head coach. Previously, he played 18 seasons in the NHL and served as an analyst for Flyers Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia.
Despite his lengthy tenure, Tocchet was served with a criminal complaint that accused him of financing a cross country sports gambling ring that was based in New Jersey. Several NHL players wagered in the ring. Not only that, the ring allegedly had mob-related connections.
Tocchet reportedly received up to five years in prison, but pleaded guilty to conspiracy and compulsive gambling, so his initial sentence was reduced to just two years of probation. Still, this infamous incident embarrassed him, which was a really bad thing.
5. Tony Demers
Although Tony Demers didn’t get a lot of attention for his on-ice actions, he certainly got more attention than he wanted following a violent incident with his wife that ultimately led to her death. His wife was pronounced dead at a local hospital a few days later. Further details revealed that the altercation with his wife was due to Demers being caught cheating on her.
He was charged with manslaughter and received a 15-year sentence. Luckily for him, he only had to serve six of those 15 years. Demers managed to escape the full punishment, but he still got a lengthy sentence in the first place, and that wasn’t completely expected by the media. Today of course, the perception would be much different.
4. Mike McBain
Mike McBain is a retired defenseman who is also the older brother of Jason McBain, who played professional hockey for the then-Hartford Whalers.
McBain’s life took a turn for the worse after an unknown 16-year-old girl accused him of sexually assaulting her. As a result, he was charged with nine counts of sexual assault of a minor and received a sentence of four to 15 years. He attempted to take his own life by overdosing on sleeping pills, but was later admitted to a hospital, where the girl’s mother visited him. This caused him to admit the fact he sexually assaulted her daughter, who he wrote an apology letter to.
3. Rob Ramage
Rob Ramage just didn’t seem to know when to put the car keys down and request an Uber or Lyft, which led to a 48 month prison sentence in 2003.
At the time, an intoxicated Ramage was driving former Chicago Blackhawks coach and defenseman Keith Magnuson to an NHLPA players alumni meeting when his Chrysler Intrepid car swerved into an upcoming lane and collided with another car, killing Magnuson and injuring the driver in the other car.
Ramage was charged with driving under the influence along with dangerous driving. He committed an extremely tragic crime, but caught a big break by having to serve only 10 months out of the original 48. He only got 48, but even worse, he supposedly didn’t have to serve all of that.
2. Claude Giroux
Claude Giroux’s the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers and generally carries himself well, but he had an extreme lapse in judgment on Canada Day weekend a few years ago.
And let’s not forget that Giroux was arrested by the police in Ottawa, Ontario, in 2014. He was arrested after twice grabbing a male officer’s butt while intoxicated in a nightclub. He was reportedly forced to spend a night in prison, but no charges were filed by the officer. Giroux commented on the incident a few days later, saying: I regret my actions on Canada Day and sincerely apologize to my fans, teammates and the Philadelphia Flyers organization for my misguided attempt at humour,” he said in a statement.
1. Sean McMorrow
The Buffalo Sabres selected Sean McMorrow with the No. 258 pick in the eighth round of the 2000 NHL Draft…and McMorrow’s career was over all of a sudden.
You would think that McMorrow learned his lesson after being busted by the border patrol for trying to cross the border with a bag containing $27,000 and a marijuana-like substance, but he never stopped smuggling drugs. He continued to run a drug ring that transported drugs from Toronto to upstate New York. He eventually got busted (again) in 2010, served a two-year sentence and was deported back to western Canada.
McMorrow didn’t get a huge sentence, but it was enough to make him, and anyone in general, think twice before smuggling drugs in and out of the border.
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