All professional sports have their scandals. The Internet has made the world a very small place and one seemingly small misstep can land an athlete in the spotlight with surprising quickness.
If one were to look at all of the major sports, hockey seems to get the least amount of attention (in America at least) for the missteps that take place within the sport. That's not to say that the sport is without its fair share of shameful incidents, for their are some pretty juicy scandals in the history of hockey.
What follows are some of those ignominious occurrences.
Long before Craig MacTavish became the Chicago Wolves head coach, he had a long NHL career. Over the course of his career he played over 1,000 NHL games, taking the ice for the Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and St. Louis Blues.
MacTavish makes this list due to the fact that on January 25, 1984 MacTavish was involved in an automobile accident that left Kim Radley, 26, of West Newfield, Maine dead. On that night, MacTavish crashed his car into the car driven by Radley. The crash left Radley with severe head injuries, which she succumbed to four days after the crash.
MacTavish pleaded guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and driving under the influence of alcohol, which saw him serve a one-year prison sentence.
While in prison MacTavish signed a free-agent deal to join the Edmonton Oilers.
In January 2000, Kevin Stevens, who was playing with the New York Rangers at the time, was nearing the end of his NHL playing career. The Rangers had defeated the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-1 on January 22nd when Stevens was arrested following the game.
Stevens, according to TIME, was found in a St. Louis motel room with "a prostitute, her pimp, a bottle of Crown Royal, drug paraphernalia and the remnants of an eight-ball of crack."
Stevens would enter the NHL's Substance Abuse Program following the arrest. Following his release from the program, he would go on to play parts of three more seasons in the NHL before retiring as a member of the team he won two Stanley Cups with, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 2006 while serving as an assistant coach for the Phoenix Coyotes, Rick Tocchet was arrested and charged with having played a major role in a large gambling operation.
Tocchet and two others were charged in the sting dubbed "Operation Slapshot." One of the other participants in the gambling ring was a New Jersey State Trooper.
In the end, all three pleaded guilty to the charges. For his part, Tocchet pleaded guilty and received two years probation. The charges stated that the gambling ring ran for five years. To understand how large the gambling ring was, ESPN reported that in the 40 days prior to charges being laid, $1.7 million in bets were made through the ring.
Patrick O'Sullivan has bounced between the AHL and NHL for most of his professional career; however, at one time, O'Sullivan was looked upon as a surefire first-round draft pick.
That top status began to take a tumble when scouts began to find out about his relationship with his father. As detailed in the June 2003 issue of ESPN The Magazine, O'Sullivan's father was the wrong kind of hockey dad, the kind that rode his son relentlessly. As the story detailed, at one point things got so bad that John O'Sullivan was arrested and served prison time for assaulting his son.
When O'Sullivan heard his name called in the draft, it was by the Minnesota Wild with the 56th pick. O'Sullivan would never play for the Wild; instead, he would be traded to the Los Angeles Kings at the 2006 entry draft.
Since then he has played 328 games in the NHL, most recently with the Phoenix Coyotes, who assigned him to the AHL's Portland Pirates in early December.
Billy Tibbetts is mostly a footnote in the history of the NHL, playing a mere 82 games in the league, but that does not discount him from making this list, for his behaviour has been fairly scandalous.
If one were to glance at his scoring totals, they would see that Tibbetts did not play hockey for three seasons. The reason for that gap is that he was in prison during that time, serving a 39-month sentence.
Tibbetts' arrest record is as follows:
1992 - charged as a 17-year-old with the rape of a 15-year-old girl. Tibbetts would plead guilty to this charge and received a suspended sentence.
1994 - charged with assault and battery of a police officer, disorderly conduct and intimidating a witness, again receiving a suspended sentence.
1995 - sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison for assault and battery with a deadly weapon (BB gun), and his probation in the 1992 rape case was revoked.
Upon his release, Tibbetts was given a chance in the NHL, as he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Between 2001 and 2003 he would play his 82 NHL games for three different teams before bouncing around the minors and overseas.
In 2007, he would once again find himself in hot water with the police after taking them on a high speed chase and crashing his car.
The late Bob Probert had his fair share of troubles throughout his life, with one of the most scandalous being his arrest in 1989.
Probert was entering the United States via the Detroit-Windsor tunnel when he was stopped by US customs after it was discovered that Probert's immigration papers were out of date. During a search of his person, which was brought on after a search of the car discovered amphetamines, agents discovered 14.3 grams of cocaine in Probert's underwear.
The arrest and three-month prison sentence earned Probert an indefinite suspension from the NHL. However, after serving his time he was reinstated and rejoined the Detroit Red Wings.
The cocaine arrest was not the only drug and/or alcohol related arrest in Probert's lifetime, but it surely was the most scandalous.
This is a strange one.
When Mike Danton was a young hockey player, he and his family were introduced to David Frost. Once Danton was introduced to Frost, he slowly became the biggest thing in Danton's life. Eventually, Frost would become Danton's agent, and as Danton cut off the relationship with his real family, it seemed as if Frost also became Danton's family.
In 2004, the seemingly bizarre relationship that Danton had with Frost got even more bizarre when Danton was charged with attempting to have Frost murdered. According to CBC.ca, Danton attempted to hire a hit man to kill Frost on three separate occasions.
Danton eventually entered a guilty plea to the charges but would not admit that he was trying to have Frost killed. In fact, when Danton was released on parole, he stated that the target of the murder-for-hire plot had been his father.
In 1989, Graham James was named Man of the Year by The Hockey News.
It was a shock to the entire hockey world when James entered a guilty plea on charges of sexually assaulting three young hockey players. Of that group, one would lend his name and face to the case—former NHL player Sheldon Kennedy.
For those crimes, James served close to two years before he was released from prison. Somewhat surprisingly, and quietly, James was pardoned on those charges, a fact that many people were unaware of until 2010.
Earlier this month James again faced charges of sexually assaulting former players, one of which was former NHL star Theo Fleury. In all, nine charges were filed against James. James again entered a guilty plea. He will be sentenced on February 22, 2012.
Alan Eagleson was one of the driving forces behind the National Hockey League Players' Association. Many hockey people will claim he is one of the main reasons that the players union has the power that it does today. Sadly, he was also responsible for defrauding those same players.
Suspicions about Eagleson's handling of the union led to a long investigation that is detailed in the book Game Misconduct.
Ultimately, the lengthy investigation discovered that Eagleson skimmed funds from international tournaments for his personal gain, billed the union for questionable expenses and defrauded players of insurance claims. He also withheld information about an offer the Boston Bruins made to Bobby Orr that would have given Orr a large ownership stake in the Bruins if he had signed with the team. Orr, not knowing of the offer, signed with the Chicago Blackhawks instead.
Eagelson was tried for fraud and found guilty. He was sentenced to 18 months in prison, but he paroled after six months.
Eagelson also resigned his spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In 2005, Eagleson was pardoned for his crimes.