The New York Rangers have signed center Jarret Stoll to a veterans minimum contract. Stoll is an impressive player, a two time Stanley Cup champion and he was arrested in Las Vegas with an eight ball of coke and a pocket full of ecstasy.
Even though the details sound like song lyrics, it’s actually a felony offense. In Nevada, cocaine possession can result in up to 4 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
The former LA Kings forward was lucky. The charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, for which he performed 32 hours of community service. After the arrest, Stoll also founded a program to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
“People around me know what kind of person I am,” Stoll told the New York Times during a conference call. “For the outside world to think what they think, it really doesn’t have an impact on myself or the way I play hockey. That’s not who I am. That is not the person I was brought up to be. Anybody who is important in my life knows that.”
Stoll’s not alone in this struggle – some other notable figures whose cocaine use has been documented include Bob Probert, Grant Fuhr, Theoren Fleury and Borje Salming.
Drug use in the NHL seems to be acknowledged by fans, yet it’s not readily addressed by the league. As Katie Strang explained for ESPN, NHL players are not routinely screened for recreational drugs. Even when players do test positive for recreational drugs, the league doesn’t automatically suspend them or require counseling. While players have been reprimanded for drug related infractions, it’s often only when it causes a PR problem for the league.
While some players seem to be able to use recreationally, others are not so lucky. Former NHL player John Kordic died from cocaine-related health problems in 1992. The night his heart failed, Kordic was high and fighting with the police inside a hotel. He was only 27 years old.
All things considered, I’m actually really glad that Stoll has been signed by the Rangers. I hope Stoll does well in the league, and I look forward to hearing more about the program he organized. At the very least, maybe this unfortunate incident can be turned into something that might save someone else’s life some day.
What can I say? I’m a huge fan of comeback stories.