After former NHL player and now former ESPN analyst Matthew Barnaby was arrested early in December for driving a Porsche with three tires while intoxicated, I thought it would be fitting to write an article featuring some of the most embarrassing arrests of past and present NHLers.
Like any other organization that boasts thousands of people with a wide range of personalities, the National Hockey League has had its fair share of players break the law since its founding.
Some arrests have been major, many have been minor, but this list is not based on the weight of the arrest, it is based on the sheer embarrassment factor of the arrest.
While all arrests are embarrassing, these are so humiliating I’m surprised these athletes ever showed their faces in public again.
Here’s the list.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets defenseman, was arrested on August 31 for operating a motorboat while intoxicated on Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, according to The Minneapolis StarTribune. The arrest itself wasn’t even the most embarrassing part; it was the fact that his weight was revealed to be 286 pounds, which was 40 pounds more than his weight at season’s end.
Shane Churla, retired NHL tough guy, was arrested on April 20 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, after a fit of road rage due to a man not letting him pass on the shoulder. The man claims that after he had stopped to avoid an object on the road, Churla pulled up beside him and threw coffee at his vehicle. Both men then pulled over to the side of the road, according to The Dallas Morning News.
Churla got out of his car and proceeded to kick and punch the man’s BMW bare-knuckled while cursing profusely. Churla dented the man’s door and caved in his sunroof, which amounted to $3,800 in damages.
Brett Sutter, Carolina Hurricanes forward (currently playing in minors), was arrested on November 11, 2010, after drunkenly punching a cab driver outside a Scottsdale, Arizona, bar. The attack was unprovoked, and the cabbie sustained a cut on the inside of his mouth and was spitting blood.
According to TSN, Sutter’s inebriated excuse was that he was celebrating his rookie game. Considering he had played 18 NHL games up to that point and his most recent game was nearly a month before, I have no idea what he was talking about.
Retired NHL enforcer Chris Nilan, who spent his 13-year career with the Canadiens, Rangers and Bruins, was arrested on July 15, 2009, for...shoplifting?
Yes, Nilan, who has earned millions from his hockey career, was arrested in a Boston mall for trying to steal a bathing suit.
He reportedly entered a dressing room of a Lord & Taylor store carrying three pairs of swim shorts and when he left the dressing room, he returned just two.
Security guards followed Nilan out of the store, and when they confronted him about the shorts, he tried to punch one of the guards.
After he was detained by the guards, and later the police, it was discovered that he was wearing a stolen Tommy Bahama bathing suit under the shorts he came in with.
"I just wanted to save a few bucks," he told police, according to the Patriot Ledger.
Frank Beaton, who played 25 games in the NHL and 153 games in the WHA, has the distinction of being the only professional hockey player to be arrested between periods of a game.
On February 19, 1978, during a game between the Cincinnati Stingers and Birmingham Bulls of the WHA, Cincinnati police nabbed Beaton in the Bulls’ dressing room after the first period concluded because of an assault he had committed in the city two years before, according to the Herald Journal (via Google News).
Beaton, who was a Stinger at the time, broke a 47-year-old gas station attendant’s cheekbone after punching him because he accidentally spilled gasoline on the hockey player’s Corvette.
Cincinnati ended up winning the game 4-3.
Steve Durbano, who played 220 games in the NHL (and accumulated 1,127 penalty minutes), was arrested in September 1997 in St. Catharines, Ontario, for attempting to run a prostitution ring, according to The Toronto Star.
Durbano, who was living on welfare and a $300-a-month hockey pension at the time, was nabbed in a sting operation after a blonde female police officer answered one of his personal ads for his "escort service."
She met with Durbano at a Tim Hortons donut shop, where he went over prices of various "acts" and gave her a code name.
He was charged with attempting to procure a prostitute a few days later and turned himself in.
Kevin Stevens, who was named to three All-Star teams during his career, was arrested on January 23, 2000, after being discovered with a prostitute and crack cocaine in a Collinsville, Illinois, motel room, according to the New York Times.
Stevens, a Ranger at the time, was celebrating a 4-1 win over St. Louis that night by soliciting a prostitute, and buying and using $500 worth of crack.
At the time of this incident, he was married with two children, and a third one was on the way.
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks forward, was arrested on August 9, 2009, in Buffalo, New York, for robbing and assaulting a taxi driver over 20 cents in change, according to Puck Daddy.
Kane, along with his cousin, were all but pleased when the driver of the cab they were in did not have 20 cents in coins to give to them after they had paid a $14.80 cab fare with $15.00.
The men punched the cab driver in the face and head, grabbed his throat and broke his glasses in the attack. They also forced the money out of his hand in which they gave him.
They fled the scene without paying and were eventually apprehended at around 5:00 AM.
Bob Probert was a long-time NHL enforcer whose battle with substance abuse was no secret.
His most embarrassing incident concerning drugs was on March 3, 1989, when he was arrested for crossing the Canada/U.S. border with 14.3 grams of cocaine concealed in his underwear, according to Sports Illustrated.
U.S. Customs agents stopped Probert, who was driving a borrowed car filled with empty beer cans and an empty liquor bottle, after crossing the border.
The agents became even more suspicious after they found a cocaine mill in his coat pocket, which led to a strip search that uncovered the half ounce of cocaine in his undies.
He was arrested and charged with the importation of cocaine into the U.S.
Joe Corvo, who currently plays for the Boston Bruins, was arrested on November 13, 2002, in a Boston restaurant for squeezing a woman’s buttocks and then beating her up, according to ESPN.
Corvo, who played for the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL at the time, was dining and drinking with teammates and friends at the Trio Café when he decided to grab a 34-year-old woman’s buttocks.
Corvo was kicked out of the restaurant for the act, but made the situation much worse as he returned to punch her in the face and then kicked her in the ribs while she was on the ground.
He fled the scene but was eventually arrested and charged with indecent assault and battery of a person 14 or over, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shoe), and regular assault and battery.
Ed Belfour, a Hall of Fame goalie, was arrested on March 8, 2000, in Dallas, Texas, after a bizarre series of drunken events, according to Sports Illustrated.
The intoxicated Belfour, who was playing for Dallas at the time, checked into an upscale hotel with a woman, who became frightened by the loud and belligerent goalie and called hotel security.
Security personnel escorted the woman to a cab, and when one of the guards confronted Belfour, he slammed the 50-year-old against a wall and put him in a headlock.
Belfour continued to grapple with the guard until police arrived. They were forced to pepper spray him because he kicked two officers in the chest as well.
He continued to be uncooperative while he was detained in the squad car—kicking wildly and spitting at an officer right after vomiting on his own chest. He then tried to bribe the officers, stating that he would give them $1 billion if they didn’t take him to prison.
Despite that generous offer, the police officers did indeed take Eddie to prison, and he spent six hours in a holding cell before being released on bond.
Dino Ciccarelli, a 600-goal scorer in the NHL, was arrested on November 25, 1987, at his home in Minneapolis, Minnesota, for exiting his house without any pants on, according to Sports Illustrated.
Ciccarelli, who was playing for the North Stars at the time, was seen on his porch wearing only a sweater by a female neighbour, who immediately called the cops.
He was arrested after police observed him outside of his house nude on another occasion and charged him with indecent exposure.
Ciccarelli was sentenced to one year on probation and had to perform 50 hours of community service.
Mark Hardy, who played 915 games in the NHL for Los Angeles, Minnesota and the New York Rangers, was arrested on May 21, 2010, in Washington, D.C., for inappropriately touching his 21-year-old daughter, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Hardy, who was an assistant coach of the Los Angeles Kings at the time, was staying at the Mayflower Hotel with his daughter, and after visiting a bar and becoming very intoxicated, climbed into his daughter’s bed and fondled her.
She filed a complaint to the police, and he was taken into custody.