Drugs like cocaine and molly becoming more popular in NHL
- And it prompts a number of pressing questions: How common is drug use in the NHL? Which drugs are the most prevalent? Is the league concerned?
- In an attempt to answer these questions, The Athletic spoke to dozens of people within the game — players, coaches, executives, agents, scouts and more — to gauge what is taking place behind closed doors and once players leave the rink. To encourage candor and to assuage any fear of retribution, personal or professional, anonymity was granted to those who asked for it.
- The vast majority of people interviewed indicated that the tendency of players from eras past to abuse drugs, even painkillers, has shifted.
- Marijuana use is still considered common and its legalization in many places in the United States and the federal legalization of the drug in Canada has prompted discussions between the NHL and NHLPA about an informal agreement about its usage.
- But the growing sense is that some players are spurning the postgame six pack of beer and turning to stronger substances, including hard and synthetic drugs.
- At least 10 people interviewed for this piece cited cocaine as the vice of choice among NHL players, especially among the younger set.
- Molly (a pill form of MDMA, which is also known as ecstasy), was frequently mentioned as a drug surging in popularity as well.
“It’s really the secret that everybody knows,” said one recently retired NHL player who still is working in the game.
- It is impossible to know just how prevalent cocaine and molly have become, but people are talking about it as a legitimate trend and there is anecdotal evidence to suggest the drugs are in circulation.
“Guys are just popping molly on the weekends or before a team Halloween party or whatever,” said the retired player, who has been shocked at how openly the drugs are now used.
- One veteran NHL player said that when he was first in the league, booze reigned supreme.
- Now, he’s seen a sharp rise in what he calls “festival drugs” like cocaine and molly. Ten years ago, hearing about cocaine use in an NHL setting was rare.
- Now, though it’s not necessarily rampant, he said it’s not uncommon.
“It’s not like it’s a hockey thing. It’s a culture thing,” the player said, pointing to the usage rates among the general population as well.
- More recently, fentanyl has become a focal point, and with good reason, according to Bo Horvat, captain of the Vancouver Canucks.
“That’s the one I hear about the most, because a lot of stuff is getting laced with that,” Horvat said.
- Horvat said that every year, the preseason seminar includes videos, information and a lecture about drugs, alcohol, concussions, and other health and safety issues.
- He considers that an essential part of an NHL player’s education.
“They really harp on that kind of stuff. It’s huge for guys to see and hear different stories and what has happened around not only our league but in other leagues, too,” Horvat said. “It’s a real eye-opener for guys to see, especially at a young age.”
Sources & Credits: Katie Strang, The Athletic