Recent NHL Deaths Have Many Questioning League’s Policies

The NHL has always had the reputation of being a beer-drinking league since most players don’t hide the fact they like to tip the bottle every now and again. However, times have changed and over the years society has seen drug use rise to unacceptable levels. This is why all major sports leagues have some type of substance abuse programs in effect. But the NHL’s seems to be failing miserably with the recent deaths of two players who were enrolled in the program.

The latest was 27-year-old forward Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets who was found dead on Aug. 15, while 28-year-old Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers was found dead back in May due to a mixture of painkillers and alcohol. It was reported that Boogaard also received counseling from the NHL’s substance abuse program.

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Bob Probert: Death of a Drunk, Cocaine Offender and Hockey Goon


I sincerely hope, as the Bob Probert death stories start to pile in, no one gives his death the ESPN Chris Henry treatment. I really don’t need to hear that Probie was “turning his life around” during his final days.  PLEASE, just don’t do that. As of right now, we know very little about the details of his death- they are sketchy at best. So we don’t need journalists making unclear assumptions to fit a possibly fictional narrative.

We may not know much about his death, but we do know a whole lot about his life. He often broke the rules both on the ice, and away from it. Probert spent seven of his 16 National Hockey League seasons as a member of the Blackhawks, registering 125 points (49G,76A) and 1210 penalty minutes in 461 regular-season tilts from  1995 to 2002.  He posted five points (2G,3A) and 64 penalty minutes in 18 postseason contests with Chicago.

By Paul M. Banks

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