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Report says drug use in the NHL is no secret

5 novembre 2019
When the video of Washington Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov sitting near what appeared to be lines of cocaine in a hotel room first surfaced on the internet back in May, there were many different reactions. Some were shocked, others saw it as an obvious thing that young people oozing money could get mixed up in. At the time, Kuznetsov denied any wrongdoing. Later, it was revealed that the International Ice Hockey Federation was suspending Kuznetsov from international play for four years because of a postive test for cocaine. The NHL followed with a three-game ban, not for the drug use itself, but for apparently misleading league officials when the video first surfaced. Kuznetsov apologized for "disappointing" his teammates, family and friends and promised it wouldn't happen again. But it led to questions over how rampant drug use is among NHLers. An excellent report by The Athletic, which interviews players past and present, as well as others involved in the game, reveals it's more common than many might think.

Athletic writer Katie Strang wrote that many she interviewed (several on the condition of anonymity, of course) said that, while alcohol seemed to be the vice of choice around the NHL in decades past, many are now turning to stronger substances like cocaine and molly (a form of ecstasy) to get their fix.

"It’s really the secret that everybody knows,” one recently retired NHL player still is working in the game told Strang. “Guys are just popping molly on the weekends or before a team Halloween party or whatever,” said the retired player, who claimed to be shocked at how openly the drugs are now used.

A veteran player told The Athletic that booze was the drug of choice for many NHLers when he first started, and that even as recent as 10 years ago, cocaine use among players was hardly heard of. Now, though, things have shifted. While he wouldn't call cocaine use rampant, it is much more common.

"It’s not like it’s a hockey thing. It’s a culture thing,” the player told The Athletic, pointing to the usage rates among the general population as well.

Strang asked Anaheim teammates Adam Henrique and Devin Shore what they would warn young players of when entering the league. Both answered cocaine.

“Cocaine is a huge drug now,” Henrique told The Athletic. “I’ve noticed, in general, if I’m out with buddies, whether it’s during the year or the summertime, if someone points it out to me — I’m oblivious to it — but once someone points it out to you, you can’t not see it. It seems so casual, that it’s not a big deal; like having a beer almost, which is kinda scary. Where does it stop?”

One NHL executive interviewed for the piece scoffed at the notion that players would be able to avoid the same pitfalls as anyone else.

“F--- that,” he said. “They’ve got the same problems of any other kid.”

You can view the article in it's entirety using the link below.

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