What Is Happening To NHL Player Clean Off-Ice Image? Twins Watch: Playoff Hope In Trouble

Marc Elliott

ELY… As a long time National Hockey League fan, I can recall saying many a time to someone when discussing the current arrest, shooting, fight, etc… of a prominent athlete from another sport; “well, that’s one thing I love about hockey, the guys have a good image away from the game, you aren’t reading bad press about them all of the time in the papers”. That has mostly been a true statement. For the longest time hockey guys watched themselves away from the game. You weren’t seeing any hockey players in the press for fighting at night clubs, carrying weapons, selling or using drugs or the myriad of other self inflicted problems one can get into away from their “professional” lives.

Certainly an online search of offenses resulting in arrests committed by pro hockey players will yield some names. They are human and not too much different from the rest of us. Things can and will happen. But up until recently these types of things seemed to be an infrequent occurrence. And make no mistake, I still don’t believe that what is currently happening in the league will become the norm, but who knows, at least I hope that what we are witnessing right now is just a trend that will fade out in the near future.

But as I began to dig into this a bit more, my thoughts were confirmed, the hockey guys are by far the least arrested. I came across an article that looked at athlete arrest rates for the four major sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL) and they extrapolated them out to mirror the way the FBI derives their crime statistics in that they multiplied them out in a “per 100,000 population” format. The timeframe they utilized was from 2010 up to September 1st, 2014. Bear in mind that the NFL has 32 teams with 1696 rostered players excluding practice squads. MLB has 30 teams with 750 players, the NBA has 30 teams with 450 players and the NHL has 30 clubs with 690 rostered players. Bear those numbers in mind when you view the extrapolated figures.

OK, the NFL leads the way with 2,466 “arrests”, the NBA is next with 2,157, MLB follows with 553, and lastly, the NHL with a mere 175. Remember, these numbers are based as if each league had 100k players, those are not how many players were actually arrested. But if this data IS correct it means that NFL players get arrested 14 times more then NHL players do, NBA players 12 times more and MLB players 3 times more. That hardly makes me feel any better, I would be happiest if all of them in each league could conduct themselves in the manner that they should. These players are the best athletes here and should exemplify good, clean, positive life skills and manners. I am happy to say that I believe that the majority of them do. As always negative attention gets the biggest headlines.

My favorite league of my favorite sport though has received more then it’s fair share of headline busters in the recent past and that makes me shake my head. From the Slava Voynov (LA Kings) domestic assault case to the Mike Richards (LAK) controlled substance arrest, at the US-Canada border no less, to the allegations of a sexual assault by Chicago Superstar Patrick Kane upon a Buffalo, NY area young woman to the recent horrific DUI arrest of Minnesota Wild Assistant Coach Darryl Sydor, I don’t like seeing the NHL’s image brought downward by matters like these.

I am not under the impression that hockey guys are the choirboys of the sporting world, that’s laughable. And what kind of a dichotomy is it that these men, playing in what is arguably the roughest, toughest, fastest game of the four mentioned, pounding the absolute snuff out of one another on more then a few nights have been relative gentlemen away from their game? There were other studies available for review that dug into the matter deeper then I am, linking socio-economic status, familial stability and even religious participation and so on with the potential for problems away from their respective sports. And they were interesting without a doubt, and probably correct for those looking for explanations for their favorite athletes behavioral deficiencies.

At the end of the day though I want my favorites, the ice warriors that they are, to double down and make certain that they aren’t the ones breaking the code of respect for the game I/we love so much. Hockey guys ARE the best, they are the most approachable, down-to-earth athletes I have ever come across and I want it to stay that way… forever.

THE MINNESOTA TWINS just got off the baseball Tilt-a-Whirl at Target Field from over the weekend and they are reeling. After dropping 3 of a 4 game set to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (damn I hate that name, it has the same lilt to it as some smarmy nose in the air café’ out on the coast) our local baseball boy’s chances at a postseason spot are definitely in peril. Last Thursday morning prior to the Angels series the Twins were 1.5 games behind Houston in the Wild Card race but a game up on the Angels. After the weekends play was complete the Twins and Angels are tied at 2.5 games out for the playoff.

Houston though has to play the Angels and Texas before the season ends. Texas has basically owned them this year. The Angels remaining games aren’t as challenging as the Astros and the Twins might have it the easiest. We have 3 tilts with Detroit, 6 with Cleveland before ending regular season play in a 3 game set with the KC Royals. We have to hope the Royals are in an “end of season don’t get hurt before the playoffs” mode and who knows, maybe, just maybe. Stranger things have happened with this club… PEACE