No group of people are going to perfect all of the time and that includes National Hockey League players. NHL players have a reputation for being a bit mischievous from time to time. Anybody who has ever heard and/or read stories about the things that certain champions have allegedly done while in possession of the Stanley Cup knows exactly what we are talking about. While some out there who like to voice hot takes on such matters would claim that these professional athletes should realize that they are role models for younger fans, there is nothing wrong with NHL players unwinding and having fun from time to time.
Far too often, though, there have been cases of certain NHL players being involved in seedy and illegal activities. Domestic violence has become a hot-button topic in National Football League actions because of alleged and, in some cases, confirmed actions of players such as Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Ray McDonald and others. The NHL has not been without such instances in the past, and some fans have, over the past couple of years, demanded that the league do better to adequately punish players who have been found guilty of such despicable acts. It was announced in January 2016 that the NHL and the NHL Players' Association had “launched an initiative to educate players on domestic violence, sexual assault and sexual harassment issue.”
For some fans, however, that initiative is either far too little, too late or not enough. One player, in particular, comes to mind, even though that athlete is currently a free man who is able to play NHL games so long as he avoids any future suspensions or off-the-ice incidents. Those of us who were not there on the night of the alleged crime are unable to say, for sure, what did and did not happen. What we do know is that one of the game's top stars seems to be, at best, a questionable character, and that does not take into account that justice may not have been regarding allegations made against him in 2015.
15 Rick Tocchet
There is one Golden Rule that players, coaches and team officials in any sports league must follow: Do not have anything to do with a gambling ring. Rick Tocchet apparently did not get that memo, as he was accused of being involved with a gambling ring in February 2006 when he was working as an assistant for the Phoenix Coyotes. Over a year after the story went public, Tocchet pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and also to charges of conspiracy. Tocchet was not punished as was Pete Rose for his actions, though, and the former NHL player is currently working as an assistant for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
14 Steve Durbano
The life and times of Steve Durbano have been recounted in articles ever since his tragic passing in 2002. Durbano, a defenseman during his days in the NHL, was known for brawling on the ice and it is said that he did not stop fighting away from games, particularly if he had been drinking on any given night. He twice found himself in serious legal trouble; once when he was found guilty of drug trafficking, and later after he was accused of running a prostitution ring. Durbano was allegedly unable to stay away from drinking when he was a free man and he died of liver failure in 2002.
13 Dino Ciccarelli
A hockey stick should never, ever be used as a weapon during any game. Dino Ciccarelli, playing for the Minnesota North Stars on January 8th, 1988, learned this the hard way after he struck Toronto Maple Leafs player Luke Richardson in the head with multiple stick shots. The NHL banned Ciccarelli for ten games, but the moment is largely remembered because it landed the Minnesota player a one-day jail sentence. According to a NY Times story published at the time of the sentencing, Ciccarelli was the first NHL player in history to receive any jail time because of something that happened during a game.
12 Ed Belfour
This one at least has somewhat of a humorous spin to it. Ed Belfour was a goaltender on the Dallas Stars back in March 2000 when he and a female companion entered a hotel room. Belfour, intoxicated at the time, was allegedly loud and acting in a manner that led the woman to fear for her safety. She was escorted out of the room by hotel security, but Belfour became physical with hotel security and later with police officers. In an attempt to make the whole thing go away, Belfour reportedly offered police a $1 billion – yes, billion – bribe, one that the officers did not take. You have to admit to being at least a little curious about how Belfour would have produced this bribe.
11 Craig MacTavish
Craig MacTavish was driving his car on a night in January 1984 when he struck a young woman with his vehicle. MacTavish, it would later be learned, was driving under the influence at the time of the incident. The woman was not immediately killed on that night, but she passed away several months later. The NHL player was sentenced to a year in prison and he reportedly watched games and followed the league while he was incarcerated. Not only did MacTavish return to the NHL as a player, he is currently the Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers.
10 Joe Corvo
Joe Corvo was playing for AHL franchise the Manchester Monarchs in the fall of 2002 when he allegedly grabbed a woman's buttocks while inside of a restaurant. The staff of the establishment told Corvo to leave, but Corvo later returned and allegedly punched and kicked the woman. The Los Angeles Kings, Corvo's employer at the time, banned the player for all of three games after he pleaded guilty a year after the assault. Corvo remained an active member of the NHL up through the 2013-14 regular season. We are sure, though, that he learned his lesson.
9 Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley should be grateful every day that he has been able to have any kind of career in pro hockey. Heatley was traveling well over the speed limit on a night back in September 2003 when he lost control of his vehicle. Dan Snyder, Heatley's friend and also a teammate at the time, was in the passenger seat of the car. Heatley survived, but Snyder passed away roughly a week after the accident. Heatley received what was essentially a slap on the wrist and he remained in the NHL up through 2015. All indications are that he will finish his career playing overseas.
8 Bryan Marchment
Hockey is a physical sport. Some adore the game for that very reason. Bryan Marchment, however, was a disgrace to the game, a player who was routinely suspended by the NHL and often accused of deliberately trying to injure other athletes. Just as abhorrent was his play was that Marchment seemed to take joy in injuring those trying to make a living playing the sport. There is no place for a person such as Marchment in any team competition and the NHL is better off that somebody like Marchment would never be able to hang around for long in today's league.
7 Todd Bertuzzi
It is one of the most disgusting incidents in NHL history. In March 2004, Todd Bertuzzi, then of the Vancouver Canucks, attacked Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore from behind. Moore's head was driven into the ice, and he suffered three broken vertebrae. Moore was lucky to be alive, and Bertuzzi was fortunate that he was not required to spend years in jail. While Moore's career was over following that fateful day, he did receive some justice in August 2014 when his lawyers came to terms on a settlement. The nature of that settlement is to remain confidential.
6 Sean Avery
Truth be told, one could probably produce an entire piece on incidents involving just Sean Avery. There is, for starters, the infamous “sloppy seconds” comment Avery once made in reference to other players dating his ex-girlfriends. Avery's feud with former New York Rangers coach John Tortorella is well-documented. The icing may have been put on the cake in October 2015 when Avery was arrested and charged with drug possession after he was allegedly throwing items at passing cars. Last but not least, Avery has been accused of causing a rift between wife and model Hilary Rhoda and her mother. Avery seems to be a fine fellow.
5 Mike Danton
“Scumbag” may be the wrong and even a harsh word to use as it pertains to Mike Danton. “Disturbed” may be a more accurate depiction. The former St. Louis Blues player was arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder in April 2004. It was first reported that David Frost, Danton's agent, was the intended target, but Danton would later claim that the hitman was intended for the player's estranged father. A CBC investigation hinted that Danton and Frost had a relationship that was and seemingly unhealthy for the mental stability of the player. Whatever actually happened, Danton won parole in September 2009.
4 Evander Kane
Websites have produced timelines on the numerous alleged incidents involving Evander Kane. He was reportedly a headache for the Winnipeg Jets almost from the day that he joined up with the club. Kane was sued in April 2014 when a man claimed that he had been assaulted by the NHL player. It was learned in December 2015 that Kane was the subject of a “sex offense” case following an alleged incident in the Buffalo area. Either Kane is just misunderstood and is, quite frankly, unlucky in certain matters, or there is at least some fire generating all of the smoke hovering over the player.
3 Semyon Varlamov
The story of goaltender Semyon Varlamov is one that has had many ups and downs, and it is one that is disturbing and even a little odd. Varlamov was arrested in October 2013 and charged with kidnapping and assaulting his ex-girlfriend. The woman filed a lawsuit after Varlamov was cleared of criminal charges, and she claimed that he had a long history of abusing her. In Varlamov's defense, a jury did side with him in February 2016, awarding him and not his ex money in the civil case. The woman's attorney stated that he is planning on appealing the decision.
2 Patrick Kane
Misdemeanor charges stemming from an incident involving Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane and Kane's cousin allegedly getting physical with a cab driver years ago was one thing. Allegations of sexual assault made by a woman in the Buffalo, New York area in August 2015 is something else. That case was eventually dismissed and there is something to be said for anybody, including a NHL player, being innocent until they are proven guilty. Kane was ultimately dropped from the cover of NHL 16 and some fans will never again view him in the same light.
1 Slava Voynov
Los Angeles Kings defensive Slava Voynov was suspended indefinitely by the NHL in October 2014 after his wife was taken to the hospital because of injuries that she suffered during an alleged domestic issue. Voynov eventually pleaded no contest to charges, and he was facing possible deportation from the United States when he announced in September 2015 that he was voluntarily leaving the NHL and the country to return to Russia. He later joined up with the KHL, where he is able to play pro hockey freely because apparently karma is either not real or it has not caught up with this scumbag just yet.