As a professional athlete, you automatically take on the title of role model. Kids look up to and often idolize you, so for better or worse it’s your responsibility as the athlete to set a good example. Charles Barkley once said that “I am not a role model. Parents should be role models. Just because I can dunk a basketball, doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” While Barkley was technically right in his statements that athletes shouldn't be put on a pedestal as role-models, the fact is, the spotlight shines on them and as a result, kids will pay attention.
All too often, however, professional athletes make the headlines for the wrong reasons. Whether it’s a domestic abuse charge or a DUI, athletes are letting kids down all around the world.
The NHL’s reputation for this isn’t as bad as, say, the NFL (which is rampant with gun violence, domestic abuse and sexual assault charges/allegations), but the NHL has had its fair share of players in trouble with the law, and some of them stories are actually quite entertaining in hindsight.
Today we’re going to take a look at the top 15 most embarrassing arrests of NHL players. Most of them come from the past 20 years or so, which is when information started traveling at the speed of light and these men had no escape from the spotlight once nabbed for their transgressions. If the internet and social media had been around in the 70s, these stories would probably sound pretty tame.
It’s tough to feel sorry for most of them though, as they made their own beds and should have to sleep in them, just like everybody else.
14 Drunk Dustin
Near the end of the 2011 offseason, Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien was nabbed by police for boating while intoxicated on Lake Minnetonka in Minnesota. While this isn’t all that embarrassing at first glance—which star athlete HASN’T been arrested for some sort of DUI, am I right?—it gets a little more embarrassing when you consider Byfuglien’s physical state at the time of his arrest.
Big Buff weighed in at almost 290 pounds. when he was arrested, more than 40 pounds over what he weighed at the end of the 2010-11 season.
13 Nilan goes for the five-finger discount
He was often using his hands to smash the faces of his opponents, but in 2009 (years after his retirement) enforcer Chris Nilan was arrested for trying to steal a bathing suit from a shopping mall in suburban Boston. Although Nilan wasn’t charged in the end and only had to foot the $100 court bill as punishment, it’s safe to say he was left a little red-in-the-face by the incident.
“I just wanted to save a few bucks,” Nilan said to police after being apprehended. I hear ya, Chris.
12 Kevin Stevens, hookers and blow
Kevin Stevens’ best years were obviously in the early 1990s when he was flanking Mario Lemieux, but it’s safe to say he was having a pretty good time throughout his entire career judging by what went down in 2000 as a member of the Rangers.
After a win against the St. Louis Blues, Stevens went back to his Collinsville, Illinois motel room with a lady of the night and several grams of crack cocaine. The married man with two children and a third on the way got busted by the cops and was forced to enter the NHL’s substance abuse program.
11 Mike Richards loves painkillers
This one is still before the courts, but it’s embarrassing enough to make the list. Last June, two-time Stanley Cup champion Mike Richards was busted at the border for attempting to take a controlled substance (oxycodone) across. This turned out to be embarrassing for both Richards and the Kings.
First off, Mr. Richards, why are you attempting to carry a controlled substance across the border? That’s really dumb. Everyone knows that you need to have it inside your body in order to cross—entry level smuggling stuff, here.
Oh, and L.A. Kings: why did you immediately suspend Richards for breach of contract, yet not Slava Voynov when he was arrested on a domestic abuse charge? Which one’s worse, do you figure? Stay classy, Kings.
10 Probert's got coke in his undies
If you were born before 1990, then you remember Bob Probert quite fondly as that guy who almost killed everyone who dared fight him. He also struggled with substance abuse issues throughout his career, and in 1989 he was arrested for attempting to cross the Canada-U.S. border with 14.3 grams of cocaine in his underwear.
That’s really embarrassing for Probert as it is, but when you realize that the only reason he was flagged by border guards in the first place was because his vehicle was littered with empty alcohol containers and his travel documents were expired, it makes it worse. Again, this is smuggling-101 stuff. You learn these things on the first day of smuggling school. Or, so we've heard.
9 Dino’s Dino
I get it, Dino Ciccarelli. When I get home, the first thing I do is take my pants off. But, unlike you, I practice a little discretion when I head out onto my patio for my morning coffee.
The accounts of the story are conflicting, but according to one of Ciccarelli’s neighbors, he was fond of wandering around his yard in just a sweatshirt and socks—if that. According to Dino, it was a one-time thing and he was just investigating a noise he heard coming from his garage. Either way, Dino Ciccarelli has been arrested for indecent exposure and that fact will never change.
8 Durbano’s prostitute ring
Defenseman Steve Durbano averaged 5.1 PIM/game over parts of six NHL seasons in the 1970s, the highest mark of any skater with over 1,000 PIM. He was also prone to getting into trouble off the ice as well. He was always getting into bar fights during his playing days, and in 1983 he was charged after trying to smuggle half a million dollars’ worth of cocaine into Canada.
The crime that sticks out for Durbano, however, is his 1998 arrest for running a prostitution ring. Durbano met with what turned out to be an undercover officer to discuss details of the “services.” Durbano’s drinking eventually got the best of him, and he died in 2002 of liver failure.
7 Stoll and the voluntary pat-down
I often wonder how many NHL players are on cocaine all the time, yet never get caught. Jarret Stoll could have easily been one of those players today if he hadn’t agreed to a routine search before entering the Wet Republic pool area at MGM Grand in Vegas back in April.
Stoll allowed the security guards to search him, and they found 3.3 grams of cocaine and several capsules of MDMA on his person. Stoll must have known they were there, so why he surrendered to the pat down is beyond me, but he’s probably pretty embarrassed about it today.
6 Patrick Kane’s life
During the 2015 Stanley Cup parade in Chicago, Patrick Kane had a few words for the crowd.
“I know you said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me next week.”
At first it seemed like an innocent joke, even if it was in ill taste. But less than two months later when he was accused of rape by a woman who allegedly had bite and claw marks on her, it seemed that it possibly wasn’t even a joke. We don’t know what happened that night (only two people truly do, and that’s if their memories of the incident are clear), but Kane’s life has been a consistent mess since turning pro.
In 2009, he was charged with robbery and punching a cab driver over what turned out to be less than a dollar. A few years later, a story surfaced of him out on the town in Madison, Wisconsin, being belligerent and causing all kinds of trouble. Basically, Patrick Kane should be embarrassed of his life at this point, and that’s not something you should be able to say about a 26-year-old three-time Stanley Cup champion.
5 Corvo gets grabby… then punchy… then kicky
Joe Corvo recognizes this incident as perhaps the turning point in his life and career, but nonetheless it makes this list because his actions are incomprehensible.
In 2002, while toiling in the minors as a 25-year-old, an NHL career wasn’t looking to promising for Corvo. When he was out drinking with some teammates, he grabbed the buttocks of an unsuspecting woman, who reacted angrily (as one might expect), and Corvo was kicked out of the bar.
It could have ended there, and we’d likely never hear of it. Corvo, however, decided to return to the bar, where he struck the woman, and then gave her a kick in the ribs for good measure. Then he ran out of the bar. Tough guy.
4 Frank Beaton’s gas station beatin'
Frank Beaton is far from a household name—he played less than half of a season’s worth of games in the NHL. He still remains, however, the only hockey player to be arrested during a pro hockey game.
In 1978, playing for the Birmingham Bulls on the road in Cincinnati, local police entered the Bulls’ dressing room after the first period and arrested Beaton for an assault committed two years earlier. Beaton apparently broke a gas station attendant’s cheek bone after the gas jockey spilled some gasoline on Beaton’s Corvette. #firstworldproblems
3 Slava Voynov’s domestic abuse
There were very few defensemen in the NHL with a more promising future than Slava Voynov, and all of that is now long gone as he battles a domestic violence charge.
This is also an ongoing case, but the details that have emerged so far have been disturbing. Police describe a scene of bloody violence, and Voynov’s wife has claimed he punched and kicked her multiple times, cutting her face and bruising her neck as well.
Oh, and the L.A. Kings deserve a second shame here, as they allowed Voynov to take place in a team skate just a few months later, despite the NHL banning Voynov from any team activities. The Kings were fined $100,000. Stay classy, Kings.
2 Classic Eddie the Eagle
Eddie Belfour always had a bit of a reputation as a booze hound, and it all came to a head in March of 2000 in a Dallas hotel room. A woman Belfour was there with reportedly became afraid of Eddie and his erratic, drunken behavior, so she called the police.
The officers' arrival did little to calm Belfour down. In fact, it appeared to agitate him even more. He was finally subdued after a physical altercation with the cops, and when detained he offered the officers “one billion dollars” if they set him free. Thanks for the offer, Dr. Evil.
1 Mike Danton’s murder-for-hire plot
This is one of the more confusing cases I’ve ever heard of, and to this day I don’t fully understand what happened. I don’t think Mike Danton does either.
Danton was arrested in April of 2004 and charged with conspiracy to commit murder. He attempted to hire a hitman (who was really a police dispatcher) to kill his agent David Frost. Frost and Danton both deny that Frost was the target of the hit, and Danton insists his father was the initial target. Although if the dispatcher says it was Frost, that's who I'm going to believe.
In any case, the relationship between Danton and Frost was unhealthy to say the least. Danton served 90 months in prison and is currently playing pro hockey in Poland.
1. Giroux cops a feel... err, feels a cop
As a proud Canadian, Canada Day is one of my favorite days of the year. Claude Giroux likely feels the same way, and on Canada Day 2014 he had a few too many in our nation’s capital and proceeded to grab the ass of a male officer.
This is so gloriously embarrassing for Giroux on so many levels. Can you imagine the ribbing he would have gotten from his teammates when training camp started? This is their captain. Giroux wasn’t formally charged with anything, but he did spend the night in jail.