Like the rest of us, NHL players are human and are prone to making the same types of mistakes that we all make from time-to-time. This means they occasionally find themselves in some sticky situations which end up embarrassing themselves and their hockey clubs. Some of these incidents are often seen as being quite humorous while others are far from it and can end up in injury and even death. In general, NHL players are considered to be choirboys when compared to their NFL, NBA, and MLB counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get into trouble and embarrass their teams in the process.
This is a list of 15 current and former players who at one time or another in their careers embarrassed themselves and their franchise. Some of them ended up in trouble with the law for their actions and paid a price while others were arrested and later had their charges reduced or dropped. Most of these players suffered from negative press and catcalls from fans, but they can really only blame themselves for the consequences and results of their mistakes. Most players learned their lesson after acting up, but a couple of them ended up being repeat offenders.
There have been numerous other players who embarrassed themselves and their clubs over the years, but were lucky enough to be left off of this list. These include Claude Giroux, Seymon Varlamov, Brett Sutter, Ed Belfour, Dino Ciccarelli, Rick Tocchet, Bob Probert, Dany Heatley, Billy Tibbetts, Riley Sheahan, Mike Richards, Ryan Malone, Dominik Hasek, Mike Danton, Dustin Byfuglien, Jay Rosehill, and Jordan Staal who have all had their moments. There have also been several players who were arrested and/or caught in embarrassing situations after hanging up their skates including Bobby Hull, Chris Nilan, Rick Vaive, Aaron Ward, and Rob Ramage.
15 Jonathan Bernier
Leafs’ goaltender Jonathan Bernier of Laval, Quebec has allowed a few embarrassing goals into his net over the past 12 months, but his most awkward moment happened off the ice. Bernier put his foot in his mouth back in December of 2014 when he was asked about Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Bernier was quoted as saying, “He is one of the most known athletes in the world and had a lot of impact in any kind of sport that he did. Even playing hockey, everyone knows him. From being the type of person he was off the ice and on the ice. But you know he changed a lot while he was with us. He’s a tremendous guy.” The Leafs organization may have been red-faced, but not as much as Bernier was.
14 Sean Avery
Sean Avery was known as a pest for his on-ice activities and the way he played the game and was even busted by the cops a couple of times following his retirement. He was taken into custody for throwing objects at passing cars and being in possession of a controlled substance just last September. However, the veteran of 580 NHL games made bigger headlines while he was a member of the Dallas Stars back in 2009. In that instance, Avery was suspended by the league for comments he made about ex-girlfriends Elisha Cuthbert and Rachel Hunter. Cuthbert was the girlfriend (now wife) of Maple Leafs’ captain Dion Phaneuf, who played for Calgary at the time and Hunter used to date Jarret Stoll. Avery was quoted as saying, “I'm really happy to be back in Calgary. I love Canada. I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.” The Stars organization was left embarrassed by their forward and said they fully supported his suspension.
13 Nikolai Khabibulin
Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin spent 15 days in jail for his embarrassing actions back in February of 2010 when he was playing between the pipes with the Edmonton Oilers. Khabibulin was busted by police in Arizona for allegedly driving at least 25 miles per hour faster than the speed limit and according to the arresting officer was visibly impaired. The player failed a roadside sobriety test and was then facing a charge of extreme DUI as he was double the legal limit. He was found guilty on three charges, including speeding, and attempts at an appeal went nowhere. This resulted in him serving a 30-day jail sentence in 2011 with 15 days in jail and 15 on house arrest. He was also fined and ordered to attend alcohol counseling then returned to action and retired a couple of years later.
12 Patrick Roy
Former goaltender Patrick Roy has always been known to have a fiery temper as both a player and coach. Roy, a Hall of Famer, let things get out of hand back in October of 2000 while he was a member of the Colorado Avalanche. Roy was arrested and charged on investigation of domestic violence after police received a 911 call from his home. The caller hung up, but police officers showed up at his home and found the goalie had just been involved in an argument with his wife. The officers confirmed that there was physical damage in the house and Roy admitted to ripping a couple of doors off of their hinges. Roy was escorted to jail and then released on bail, but faced deportation if found guilty. The charges were dropped in January of 2001 and Roy and his wife were divorced four years later. Roy was also accused of assault in 2009 while acting as the owner of the Quebec Remparts junior team. In addition, two of his sons have been involved in violent incidents in the past while playing for their coach/father with one of them being charged.
11 Jarret Stoll
Forward Jarrett Stoll was a member of the Los Angeles Kings last April and they weren’t too happy when they found out he’d been busted on drug charges while partying in Las Vegas. Stoll had stuffed various drugs including cocaine and ecstasy down his shorts before entering a pool party, but wasn’t smart enough to realize he’d be caught when the doorman patted him down. Stoll was taken into custody, but lucked out when his original felony charges were reduced to misdemeanors. He then caught another break when he was sentenced to just 32 hours worth of community service instead of four years of jail time. The 33-year-old realized his Kings’ career was over and the two-time Stanley Cup winner signed a year-long deal with the New York Rangers a few months after his arrest. He was placed on waivers in December and picked up by the Minnesota Wild.
10 Ryan O’Reilly
The Buffalo Sabres had to wipe the egg off of the franchise’s face just last year right after they signed forward Ryan O’Reilly to a seven-year contract extension which was the richest in club history. Shortly after the Sabres traded for and inked the former Avalanche player to a new $52.5 million deal, O’Reilly allegedly left the scene of an accident in Lucan, Ontario after driving while impaired. O’Reilly was charged for crashing his pickup truck into a Tim Hortons’ coffee shop in July, 2015 and then taking off after the 4 am incident. The centre has been successful in having the case put off, but he’s going to have to show up in court one of these days. When he does, he’s facing jail time and fines. O’Reilly has also publicly apologized for his actions.
9 Alex Galchenyuk
Montreal Canadiens’ forward Alex Galchenyuk’s recent embarrassing incident is a little different than the rest since his girlfriend is to blame. It all took place this January 10th when Galchenyuk and teammate Devante Smith-Pelly held a party which led to Galchenyuk’s girlfriend being arrested for domestic violence. Chanel Leszczynski was busted around 8am after police received a 911 call from the player’s downtown hotel apartment. Reports said the 21-year-old player was questioned and his 27-year-old girlfriend was then charged after officers spoke to hotel staff and other party guests. Leszczynski allegedly started a fight with Galchenyuk at the party after the Habs were beaten by Pittsburgh. Canadiens’ GM Marc Bergevin and head coach Michel Therrien refused to speak to the media about the incident, but Galchenyuk and Smith-Pelly were called into a meeting by Bergevin, presumably to warn them to smarten up. Galchenyuk didn’t file domestic violence charges, but local police still have to hand the case over to prosecutors.
8 Slava Voynov
Russian defenceman Slava Voynov was a key component of the Los Angeles blue line and helped them win a pair of Stanley Cups. However, he’s back playing hockey in Russia now as he left the U.S. voluntarily before the government threw him out. Voynov was arrested in October of 2014 on domestic violence charges against his wife and suspended for the rest of the 2014-15 campaign by the NHL. The charges announced were a “felony count of corporal injury to a spouse with great bodily injury.” The Kings then embarrassed themselves by allowing Voynov to show up at a practice and were fined $100,000 by the league. Voynov was facing nine years in the slammer and deportation. He was paid his salary for the season and denied kicking, punching and, choking his wife before hightailing it back to Russia. Before he could leave though, the charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and he pleaded no contest. His sentence was 90 days, three years probation and counseling sessions.
7 Joe Corvo
There’s no doubt that former NHL defenceman Joe Corvo is a nasty piece of work as his infamous incident in 2002 goes to show. Corvo was busted and eventually charged with several counts of assault and battery for allegedly kicking and punching a woman while out on the town in Boston. Corvo reportedly grabbed a woman’s buttocks at a restaurant and was duly escorted from the premises. However, instead of leaving it at that, the alcohol-induced tough guy returned to the establishment. He then proceeded to assault the female patron by punching her and reportedly aiming a kick to her ribs. Corvo pleaded guilty to lesser charges and was handed three years’ probation as well as a stint with an anger management counselor. He also paid out a lot of cash in a civil lawsuit. Corvo happened to be playing in the AHL at the time with the Manchester Monarchs, but the incident was a huge embarrassment for the Los Angeles Kings, who owned his rights. The NHL club suspended him for three games in October of 2003 after the case went to court. Corvo would finish his NHL career with the Ottawa Senators.
6 Ray Emery
Goaltender Ray Emery, who’s now toiling in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies, has embarrassed his team on several occasions in the past. Emery disgraced the NHL itself back in 2013 as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers. The netminder left his crease and skated the length of the ice to attack Washington goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl. Holtby clearly had no intention of fighting back, but Emery continued the assault. Emery received 29 minutes in penalties for his actions, but incredibly he wasn’t charged by the cops and suspended by the league. The goalie also escaped punishment for a 2007 road rage incident with a 65-year-old man while playing for the Ottawa Senators. The other driver filed a complaint with Ottawa police and also reported the incident to the Senators, but Emery escaped charges. The goalie didn’t learn his lesson though as he was pulled over by Ottawa police for speeding two years later, once again in his white Hummer. He was charged with stunt driving and had his license and car seized for a week. Emery was playing with KHL club Atlant Mytishchi at the time of the incident.
5 Kevin Stevens
Power forward Kevin Stevens had a pregnant wife and two children when he was busted for possessing of crack cocaine and soliciting a hooker back in January of 2000. He was a member of the New York Rangers at the time and the alternate captain always had a reputation as being a bit of a partier. Stevens’ ran afoul of the law in the suburbs of St. Louis when his motel room was raided after a road game. Unfortunately for Stevens, the hooker and her pimp were in his room along with the drugs. The two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins was 34-years-old at the time and the three-time All-Star entered the NHL’s rehab program after getting out of jail.
4 Patrick Kane
Patric Kane, the NHL’s leading scorer this season, has embarrassed the Chicago Blackhawks on several occasions even if the club won’t admit it. The native of Buffalo, New York made the headlines for all the wrong reasons back in 2009 when he and his cousin got into an argument with a taxi driver over 20 cents. The driver said he didn’t have the exact change for the $15 the pair gave to him and they proceeded to assault the poor guy. Kane was arrested for robbing and assaulting the man after the incident in his hometown and the driver testified that Kane and his cousin broke his glasses in the attack and took their $15 back. Kane was eventually cleared of the felony charges facing him, but he pleaded guilty to a charge of noncriminal disorderly conduct. In addition, Kane also left the Hawks red faced when a woman accused him of sexual assault last year. Luckily for Kane, there appears to be insufficient evidence to charge him.
3 Ryan O’Byrne
Back in July of 2008, Ryan O'Byrne was a member of the Montreal Canadiens and found himself being charged with felony grand theft. O’Byrne was accused of stealing a woman's purse during a road trip in Tampa when he and his teammates got together for a rookie dinner. Several players were still going at it at a nightclub in the early hours of the morning when the young lady approached a bouncer and said her purse was gone. They allegedly found the Habs’ defenceman outside the bar with it and looking through the contents while in possession of her cell phone. The player said it was his girlfriend’s purse and phone, but the bouncer wasn’t buying it. Rumours soon started floating around that said O'Byrne wanted to delete some photos from the woman’s phone which may have led to some domestic problems between a married teammate and his wife. Charges against O’Byrne were later dropped after he apologized to the victim and agreed to perform several hours of community service. Teammate Tom Kostopoulos was also busted during the incident for resisting arrest and his charges were dropped several weeks later.
2 Mark Hardy
One of the oddest incidents involved former 15-year veteran defenseman Mark Hardy while he was an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings. Hardy spent a night drinking back in May of 2010 while in Washington D.C. and then allegedly sexually fondled his own 21-year-old daughter when he returned to his hotel. He was charged with felony sexual abuse after his daughter filed a complaint. However, the charges were later dropped, but Hardy had already resigned from the Kings following the incident. It’s believed his daughter thought better of her complaint and didn’t want to relive the incident in a court of law. Hardy now works as a coach with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL after rejoining the Kings’ and working for their ECHL affiliate in 2011.
1 Craig MacTavish
One of the most serious incidents involved forward Craig MacTavish of the Boston Bruins back on January 25, 1984. MacTavish was charged with vehicular homicide after he drank and drove and killed a woman in a traffic accident. MacTavish, who was 25 at the time, caused the accident 20 miles north of Boston when he rear-ended a vehicle driven by a 26-year-old woman named Kim Radley. The woman’s car left the road and crashed into a sign. She lost consciousness and passed away a few days later. MacTavish originally pleaded not guilty to charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, driving without a license, and driving to endanger. He later pleaded guilty to the vehicular homicide charge and served a year in jail. He missed the rest of the 1984-85 campaign and the Bruins released him after his jail term. MacTavish currently serves as Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers.