Top 10 NHLers Who Killed Their Own Careers

In any career, be it in professional sport or otherwise, there are always a few things that dictate the success a person will have: work ethic, decision-making, and of course, luck.

It's been proven time and time again that all the talent in the world won't get you anywhere if you don't put the effort in. It's also been proven that hard work can beat talent any day of the week - how else can you explain some of the biggest upsets in sports history, or the inexplicable rise to stardom of undrafted no-names like Kurt Warner or Martin St.Louis?

Decision-making is also a huge part of anyone's day-to-day life - whether you're a Major League fireballer or an average Joe working a 9-to-5. The seemingly insignificant choices today might be the reason you are where you are in ten years, or might turn send your currently magnificent life into a complete tailspin.

Last but not least: Lady Luck. There's no way to control it - either the cards fall in your favor, or they don't. You could be in the right place at the right time and have something remarkable happen to you, or you could be the unlucky sap who gets caught in a compromising situation without any intention to do so.

Over the years, we've heard countless stories of immensely talented athletes whose careers took a turn for the worse by no fault of their own; a fluke injury, a bad accident, a trade or contract offer that changed the ball-game and resulted in an untenable situation.

There's also just as many instances where the athlete himself has done something incredibly stupid - stupid enough to essentially throw away all the work they had done up until that point and digging themselves a hole they are never able to climb out of.

Here are some of the worst of those cases from the National Hockey League.

Continue scrolling to keep reading

Click the button below to start this article in quick view

Start Now

10 Kevin Stevens

via thewolf.ca

Kevin Stevens was a two-time 50-goal scorer early in his NHL career, and seemed destined for years in the league as a top-end sniper. His totals began to dip consistently after the 1993-1994 season - if that wasn't bad enough, Stevens found a way to worsen his situation off the ice, too.

Stevens was 34 years old when he was arrested for soliciting a 'lady of the night' and possessing illegal substance paraphernalia after he was found in a motel room just hours after a game (he was a member of the Rangers at the time), according to NYTimes.com.

Stevens was able to continue his career, but only lasted two more seasons - both unproductive ones, at that.

9 Bob Probert

via redwings.nhl.com

Bob Probert was one of the toughest hockey players in the history of the sport, but he was also often brought under the microscope for the ill-advised decisions he made off the ice. Probert got himself in trouble with the law on a number of occasions, as according to SI.com, he was busted at the U.S.-Canadian border for attempting to smuggle a highly illegal substance across in his underwear (which landed him behind bars for several months), and he was tasered in 2004 after an altercation with police.

Probert is considered one of the best fighters of all-time, but his altercations with law enforcement put a damper on his legacy and ultimately played far too big a role in his career.

8 Chris Simon

via ottawacitizen.com

Chris Simon was a fairly effective all-around power forward early on in his NHL career - he even scored 29 goals with the Capitals in 1999/00 - but his short temper and penchant for dirty plays eventually cost him his career (and a lot of money).

Perhaps most notably was his eighth career suspension - which also happened to be the longest in NHL history. Simon, a member of the Islanders at the time, was suspended 30 games for stomping on the leg of Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jarkko Ruutu - this not even a year removed from his 25-game ban for his two-handed slash across the face of Rangers forward Ryan Hollweg.

Simon had a brief stint with Minnesota after his separate incidents with the Islanders, but never played in the NHL again after 2008.

7 Slava Voynov

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Slava Voynov's is the most recent case on this list, and it is currently ongoing - but as it stands it does not look good for the 25-year old Russian blueliner.

Voynov's career took off over the past few years after posting impressive point totals in the regular season and playoffs, but he hasn't played since being arrested earlier this year on domestic violence charges. It at first seemed like Voynov would be in the clear, but recent developments could result in jail time and deportation back to Russia, according to Forbes.com.

6 Ryan Malone

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

For years, Ryan Malone was one the league's most respected - even feared - power forwards, a big-bodied presence who could hit, score, fight, and wreak havoc for opponents. While Malone's numbers began to decrease several years ago, he was still a fairly productive player for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

That all changed in April of 2014, after Malone was arrested for driving under the influence and in possession of a highly illegal substance, according to ProHockeyTalk. While his legal situation is slowly creeping towards a resolution, his NHL career is effectively over after he was waived a few weeks ago by the New York Rangers, who signed him this summer to a one-year contract with the hopes he could revive his career (while producing for them at an extremely low cost).

5 Sean Avery

Sean Avery is one of the few players in NHL history who wore out his welcome in the league by running his mouth. Avery was a hard-nosed agitator for years, but as he got older he became more and more nonsensical, to the point where no one wanted him in their locker room anymore. Avery's "rap sheet" consists of accusations of racial slurs, the "Sean Avery" rule, and the infamous "sloppy seconds" quote directed at current Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert, who is now married to Phaneuf.

4 Theoren Fleury

via flamesnation.ca

The fact that Theo Fleury spent much of his career with the Calgary Flames is appropriate - he could easily pass for a little ball of fire streaking around the ice, wreaking havoc and getting under the skin of opponents like few could; while still being a productive player.

Unfortunately, Fleury had some internal demons that were eating him up during his NHL career. He voluntarily entered rehab, according to The New York Times, while still a productive member of the Rangers in 2001, and while he did come back the following season, he was not the same player. He retired in 2004, putting an end to a productive career far too soon - a career that was perhaps doomed from the start thanks to a tumultuous upbringing that seemingly followed and haunted him for a good portion of his life.

3 Alexandre Daigle

via nhl04rebuilt.com

Alexandre Daigle's story is perhaps the only one that you won't feel bad reading about in this article.

Daigle was supposed to be the NHL's next big superstar, but after a pedestrian 51 points in his rookie season, Daigle began to develop his reputation as the league's biggest draft bust of all-time. Daigle admitted later in his career to not loving the game, and to only playing because he was naturally talented. Daigle left hockey for a few years in an attempt to become an actor, but he apparently began to "miss" the game he supposedly never loved.

Daigle returned to the NHL in 2002 with the Penguins, which he parlayed into a contract with the Minnesota Wild, but in 2005, another subpar season landed him in the minors, and the former junior superstar would never lace up for another NHL game.

2 Pelle Lindbergh

via hfboards.hockeysfuture.com

Pelle Lindbergh's story is perhaps the most tragic of the one's listed here. Lindbergh was coming off a spectacular season with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1984-1985, a season in which he won 40 games and was awarded the Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder.

He was off to another stellar start in 1985-1986 (he had compiled a 6-2 record and a 2.87 GAA in 8 games) until Lindbergh made the fatal decision to get behind the wheel of his car while intoxicated. He drove the car into a wall, killing himself and two others - it was later revealed that his blood alcohol level was .24 at the time of the crash, according to Philly.com.

1 Mike Danton

via hokejonline.com

Mike Danton's story is the possibly the craziest of them all - the story that you'd have a hard time believing was true if someone had been telling it to you in passing.

Danton had finally established himself as an every-day NHLer - he was coming off a 68-game season in which he totalled 12 points and 141 penalty minutes averaging nearly 12 minutes a night.

Danton never had the chance to build upon that first full season after he was implicated in a murder plot that landed him in jail for five years. It was initially speculated (and widely believed) that Danton's plot was to have his agent, David Frost, murdered. He eventually stated in court that his estranged biological father, Steve Jefferson, was the real target - but the documented abuse of Danton by Frost left many skeptical of Danton's story.

Whatever the case, Danton went from playing in the 2004 NHL playoffs to behind bars for the next half-decade; and while he's seemingly gotten his life back in order now, reviving his NHL career was never on the table.

More in NHL