Cocaine in the NHL: What Are We Going to Do About It?
If you’re the type of fan who pays attention to off-ice extracurricular activity, you may have noticed a few recent incidents involving NHL players and cocaine. If you’re old enough, you may even recall that cocaine has had periods of increased usage by NHL players over the past 30 years. Coincidentally, the Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly addressed this exact topic in a release to TSN.
On October 5th, 2015, Daly told TSN that there have been more cocaine positives in recent years, but provided few details.
“I wouldn’t say it’s a crisis in any sense,” Daly said. “What I’d say is drugs like cocaine are cyclical and you’ve hit a cycle where it’s an ‘in’ drug again. I’d be shocked if we’re talking about a couple of dozen guys. I don’t want to be naïve here…but if we’re talking about more than 20 guys I’d be shocked. Because we don’t test (for cocaine) in a comprehensive way, I can’t say.”
I’ll take the over on 20, Bill. Of the thirty NHL teams, less than one player per team is using cocaine? Is that player using all by his lonesome? Maybe, but more than likely he has a pal or two, like a drinking buddy.
What seems to be making Daly’s point is that only the careless ones are making headlines, like Ryan Malone and Erin Andrew’s boyfriend, Jarret Stoll. Stoll showed monumentally bad judgement by showing no concern for the security pat down when he tried to enter a Wet Republic pool party in Las Vegas last April and was promptly busted. Incidentally, he was also in possession of some ecstasy for good measure. Maybe he should have used the tried and true, “I think I left my cell phone in the car” move while retreating from said security detail and reassessing the situation.
It’s a Problem
If you look at the cocaine issue from the outside, all you see is a couple guys here and there actually getting in trouble. But the fact is that Daly came out and gave an interview stating that cocaine usage is on the upswing. He didn’t give any concrete numbers on test results past and present, so we have to take him at his word.
If he’s right and the numbers are fairly insignificant, then that’s great for hockey. However, hockey has been crawling out of the giant hole that was (or wasn’t) the 2004-2005 season for ten years now and seems to be on very solid footing. The last thing it needs is some scandal that could derail the momentum train.
Certainly, the vast majority of players aren’t cocaine users, but the ones who are partaking know that the current program has zero teeth. Furthermore, even the least knowledgeable users are aware that unless you are foolish enough to be driving drunk with cocaine on the front seat and crash into a telephone pole, it’s unlikely you will get caught by an NHL drug screening.
Dr. Bhushan Kapur, an associate scientist and toxicologist at Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, confirmed this in an interview with TSN:
“People who want to beat drug tests know that the more water you drink after using cocaine, the faster it flushes through and out of your system,” Kapur explained. “It’s not an easy drug to catch.”