If you thought the National Hockey League was one of the few sports “clean” of performance enchanting drugs, you may be wrong.
Retired NHLer Georges Laraques is suggesting in his new book, “George Laraque: The Story of the NHL’s Unlikeliest Tough Guy,” that steroid use in hockey is more common than baseball.
Laraques is a 34-year-old former Montreal Canadien who amassed 1,126 penalty minutes , including 129 fights in regular season action, all within 695 games.
The league’s top performers and enforcers make the list of prime suspects, he says, without naming individuals.
He told the Canadian Press the following:
I have to say here that tough guys weren’t the only players using steroids in the NHL. It was true that quite a lot of them did use this drug, but other, more talented players did too. Most of us knew who they were, but not a single player, not even me, would ever think of raising his hand to break the silence and accuse a fellow player.
Here’s an excerpt shared from the book:
Before a game, as I would warm up on the ice, I would always look at the tough guy on the other side. … If his arms were trembling, if his eyes were bulging, I knew for sure he wasn’t going to feel any of the punches I would give him.
Laraques was quoted in the Montreal Gazette this summer after the death of Wade Belak, regarding the role of an enforcer:
You try not to think about it, but you start with the drugs or the alcohol and that creates the problem. … And when you retire, most of the tough guys aren’t set (for life). You don’t make a lot of money as a fighter, so they’re thinking ‘OK, now what do I do?’ So they go back to drugs and alcohol. There’s no options. Then, there’s the people who say ‘let’s take fighting out of hockey.’ Are you kidding me? Whoever decides to make that rule (no fighting), then you’re really going to have a problem with these guys. If there’s depression when you retire, how bad do you think it’ll be if you take 75 jobs out of the NHL so they can’t even earn a living? You create a bigger problem by trying to fix the problem.
Laraques added that the NHLPA tried to prevent drug testing as to not hurt the players’ careers and pocket books.
There’s not telling, however, what damage these accusations will bring in the near future.