NHL Teams Dealing with Substance Abuse Before Season Opener

A sensitive NHL Topic that has been an increasing problem

The Issue is Big

The National Hockey League has never been known for obsessive amounts of player misconduct, but they’ve had to deal with it in numbers. I personally believe that player misconduct can be attributed to fame and fortune. People change when they are rewarded large sums of money, whether we want to believe it or not. The idea that players have nobody to turn to for help is ludicrous, because the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program provides a program for players to get help. Unlike other leagues, the NHL is limited to testing a certain amount of players at a given time. I’m not sure the theory behind their testing methods, but they seem to be catching people. The NHL is currently in talks with the NHL Players Association to add cocaine to the list of banned substances. For whatever reason, they have yet to put it on there, despite the rise in positive tests around the league. We obviously can’t give specific numbers, but we can speculate using appropriate data and thought processes that there are a good number of guys currently using the drug. Cocaine- Cocaine‚Äôs main property is that it stimulates the central nervous system. Cocaine abuse can cause paranoia, although that reaction appears to be infrequent among cocaine users as a whole. Some report that cocaine use can also cause irritability and anxiety in users, especially at the end of a period of intoxication.

Taking Life to the Next Level and Work has to be Done

What needs to be done? Is there a problem with the drug-testing program? Why are guys not getting the help they need ahead of time? Why are guys even risking their future like this? Obviously, all of these are very solid questions that can be discussed and talked about because it’s a major issue right now. There are a number of guys I can name off the top of my head who I know are users. I knew guys who used it during their college hockey days as well, but it’s no secret. The drug has penetrated the league and NEEDS to be banned. Ryan Malone (2014 arrest), Mike Richards (instance in 2015) and Jarret Stoll (2015 arrest) are three notable names that have been reported to have done cocaine. If you want to throw a little truth in there, I’m sure most coaches do lines before games. It’s truthfully not something to joke about because this can derail ones career, if not impact their life in another way, shape, or form.

We can’t cite a specific number of players partaking in drugs, but we do know there are a number of those that do. There are going to be people who always have to have “verification” or “confirmation” that something happens/happened, rather than understand that some things are known because of today’s expansive net of resources. It’s easy to spot who the party crowd around the NHL is. Yeah, it really is. Teams (players, coaches, front office staff) can do their due diligence and aren’t stupid when it comes to finding out who those players are. These players are usually held in check by the leaders on their respective teams, like for instance, it’s no secret that Mike Richards was the life of the party when he was with Los angeles. So yes, we do really know about those who take life to an extra level. Thanks to the internet and an infinite amount of sources, we can turn speculation into truth.

I’m not naive to think that players sit in their rooms studying Chemistry on a Saturday night. I’m also not naive and taught to believe everything is OK in this world, because it’s not OK to be doing this type of thing. It’s detrimental to ones health and it also hurts your team. Many young players (speaking mainly about those who aren’t married yet) are either hitting up clubs or railroading some Russian cake. Teams know that shoving a lot of money in the face of an 18, 19, 20 year old kid is a lot of pressure, if not a life changing act. Yeah, the kid goes out and buys a Ferrari 458 and rents an amazing pad in the middle of downtown. You ask him to stay out of trouble, but he throws a party at his pad. You tell him not to do drugs, but 3 veteran teammates show the rookie how it’s done. We can all picture certain scenarios about what happens around the league, but it’s important to understand that these are young kids adapting to an entirely different lifestyle.

My Solutions to an NHL Drug Problem

There are many pressures a young man has to face when entering the league, but none greater than adapting to professional hockey life while being surrounded by bad influences. Drugs are prevalent and aren’t going away, but there is a way to stop players from jeopardizing their futures – to be more clear, there is a way of stopping these bad things from happening. Teams need to implement programs to help rookies and young players adapt to life as a pro. They need to provide leadership and show these young men that they are being given a wonderful opportunity. Cherishing this opportunity involves smart thinking. Drug programs would curb this at the beginning of their development as professionals, like mandating classes and updating programs to instill the league tries to cut drug use. It’s important to also know that the media can easily find out who the party crowd on a team consists of. Young guys have to make good decisions because they are in control of their own destiny.

My Ideas to Help Curb the NHL Drug Problem (Cocaine in Particular)

  1. Designate veterans to a rookie/young player
  2. Designate and mandate new programs for rookies and young players
  3. Implement better drug-testing programs
  4. Work on NHL PA and NHL relations to ensure player safety/health is number one priority
  5. Provide drug programs for players
  6. Ensure there is leadership in every locker room to curb this issue
  7. More ideas to come
  8. Provide team support staff to players who need it
  9. More ideas in the works

My overall thoughts are that cocaine is a drug that can be completely eliminated in the NHL if the league decided to implement better testing policies and programs alike. There is NO way to win the war on drugs, but professional sports organizations are able to really make it nearly impossible for a player to get away with abusing the system.

Thanks for reading! You can find other drug-related articles elsewhere on the internet, but


  • julieduke33

    The bigger problem is the huge drinking problem by hockey players in general at all levels…I am a drinker so I’m not saying drinking is awful I enjoy it, but 90% of hockey players would probably be considered problem drinkers according to any alcohol rejhabiltation center, myself included (played juniors and college) A drinking environment will usually lead to any experimentation with cocaine..I’m mot saying cocaine isn’t a problem but on a much smaller scale than Alcohol..For every cocaine arrest /problem their is probably 10 to 20 times more alcohol related incidents…

    By the the way any numbers I threw out there are just guesses..but been around hockey my whole life so I’m probably not far off

  • ihaveareputation

    • x2

      2018 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    • 2019 DraftKings FBWC Finalist

    Nah, legalize everything for all sports. I would personally love to see someone perform a 4 meter high jump or run a 3 minute mile. Maybe we could make separate leagues… For example, the NHL and the NNHL (National Narcotics Hockey League).

  • deactivated70850

    Great points guys! Thanks for the read and I totally understand where you guys are coming from. It makes sense that alcohol is a larger problem and we can easily bring up data to prove that. I just think the league needs to try adn curve the problem with these young guys before they ruin their future; I also know they are adults, but it’s still a big transition (e.g.-from Alberta to New York City)

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