Georges Laraque has been a social crusader since retiring from the NHL and now he’s striking a blow against the league in his new book. In his book, Laraque says the league has a serious problem with performance enhancing drugs, in particular he says steroids are prevalent amongst both the talented players and brawlers alike.
Apparently Laraque is aiming to be the Jose Canseco of hockey with such a bombshell of a book.
Laraque’s claims are huge and in a league where performance enhancing drugs don’t really get much discussion at all, having a former player blowing the whistle like this is something the league should take serious. While hockey players aren’t hitting home runs and challenging long-held records like those in baseball, hockey has another issue that could tie into things when it comes to concussions.
If you’ve got a horde of players out there juiced up and punishing each other on the ice, the possibility that some guys are on steroids makes that issue a bit more curious to ponder. There’s no link to steroids and concussions, but there’s certainly the added danger of having guys being artificially stronger and faster and hitting each other.
One difference between hockey and baseball, however, is that the NHL was proactive in getting mandatory drug testing put into the CBA in 2005. After all the issues baseball had with drugs, the NHL and NHLPA were wise to make sure they kept up with the times. If Laraque’s allegations are at all true, then both sides will need to revisit the issue this summer during CBA talks.
Until there are more players busted on drug tests, however, fans will find it hard to take Laraque at his word about how prevalent drugs are in the league.
Tuesday was a mixed-bag for Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien. On the bright side, he earned two assists during the Jets’ 6-1 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the NHL’s preseason return to Winnipeg. His Tuesday didn’t start out so well, though, as he received four charges related to an intoxicated boating arrest he received on Aug. 31.
A strange detail emerged, however: Byfuglien passed a breathalyzer test at a level of .031 percent, which is less than half of the legal limit. The Winnipeg Free Press obtained documents that might illuminate the issue, though: a police expert judged some of Byfuglien’s symptoms as a sign that he might have been “high on drugs.”
Despite that legal breathalyzer reading, Byfuglien reportedly failed field sobriety tests. He was placed under arrest and taken for further questioning, but refused to provide a sample of his blood or urine, which counts as an automatic offense that carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail.
Mike McIntyre shares more details from the police report.
“Mr. Byfuglien stated that he had taken a muscle relaxer earlier that day, but that he could not remember the name of the muscle relaxer,” the police report said. “Mr. Byfuglien stated that he takes a ‘handful’ of supplements from 16 or 17 different bottles every day and that he does not know the names of the supplements.”
Byfuglien then refused to give a blood or urine sample, which is an automatic offence by law.
The drug recognition expert noted there was a mysterious “distinct brown stain on his tongue,” which police noted in their report. Police also say his eyes were glassy and showing a “lack of smooth pursuit” which, combined with the other factors, led to a belief he was “under the influence of a controlled substance and was unable to safely operate a watercraft.”
Along with refusing the blood and urine test, Byfuglien faces a maximum sentence of 90 days for the other charges.
The charge of refusing a blood or urine test carries a maximum one-year jail sentence, while the other charges of boating while intoxicated, failing to display proper lights and failing to provide enough flotation devices for himself and three other passengers on the boat carry a maximum of 90 days behind bars.
Byfuglien’s first court date is set for Oct. 21. That might be doable (if a bit of a challenge), as the Jets have a break in between games in Ottawa on Oct. 20 and a contest in Winnipeg on Oct. 22. It’s unclear if he could request that the court dates be deferred until after this season, which was what Nikolai Khabibulin did with his extreme DUI situation (which happened in 2010 but wasn’t resolved until this summer).
Either way, we’ll keep an eye out for updates regarding this troubling situation.