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NHL substance-abuse history


The NHL's Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program was created in 1996. Under the policy, players may voluntarily participate without penalty. Previously, players were suspended automatically for alcohol or drug use. Terms of the suspension were at the commissioner's discretion.

Following is a list of notable players who have either been suspended or have had an encounter with the NHL's policy in its various forms.

Don Murdoch: New York Rangers winger suspended for the 1978-79 season after his arrest for possession of cocaine. He was reinstated after 40 regular-season games.

Ric Nattress: Montreal Canadiens defenseman suspended for the 1983-84 season for possession of marijuana and hashish. Nattress was reinstated after 40 regular-season games.

Sept. 4, 1986
Borje Salming: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman suspended for the 1986-87 season for admitting previous use of cocaine in a newspaper article. Salming was reinstated after eight games.

March 4, 1989
Bob Probert: Detroit Red Wings winger suspended for life for smuggling cocaine into the U.S. After serving a 90-day jail sentence, Probert was reinstated on March 9, 1990 and played four games.

Sept. 27, 1990
Grant Fuhr: Edmonton Oilers goaltender suspended for one year for admitting prior substance use. Fuhr was reinstated on Feb. 4, 1991.

Sept. 2, 1994
Bob Probert: Chicago Blackhawks winger suspended indefinitely without pay and immediately ordered into a league-supervised treatment center in California. It is believed to be the first time the league has assisted in a player's rehabilitation. Probert was reinstated in April 28, 1995.

Nov. 1, 1997
Ken Daneyko: New Jersey Devils defenseman became the first player to publicly announce his voluntary participation in the NHL's new substance abuse program, which was adopted in Sept. 1996. After missing 45 games, Daneyko returned to the NHL on Feb. 7, 1998.

Brantt Myhres: Phildelphia Flyers winger voluntarily enrolled in NHL's program at the start of the season because of alcohol dependency. Myhres re-entered treatment in Sept. 1998 when he was a member of the San Jose Sharks.

Jan. 23, 2000
Kevin Stevens: New York Rangers winger arrested in a suburban St. Louis motel for felony drug possession of crack cocaine and is admitted to the NHL's treatment program. It is the second time he has been a participant. "I was involved before this happened," Stevens told the Philadelphia Inquirer. "I had been sober for 18 months." Stevens missed the remainder of the season and signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers on July 7.

March 8, 2000
Ed Belfour: Dallas Stars goaltender arrested for assault and resisting arrest after a fight at a Dallas hotel. He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of resisting arrest and was enrolled in the NHL's program. After missing the Stars next five games, he returned to the lineup on March 18.

Feb. 28, 2001
Theo Fleury: New York Rangers winger voluntarily enrolled in the NHL program. According to a Sports Illustrated report, Fleury sought help from the same program after the 1999-2000 season.

August 16, 2002
Jere Karalahti: Nashville Predators defenseman suspended six months without pay by the NHL for a third violation. Left the NHL to play in Finland.

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