The average NHL team value in 2020 was an impressive $653 million. In fact, this figure represents a 2% drop due to the COVID pandemic and it’s the first decrease ever since 2001. With so much cash in play, it makes sense that NHL players make big bucks. In many teams, the average annual player salary is over $3 million. Yet, not all of the stories related to NHL players are happy ones. Especially not when gambling enters the picture. Read on to learn about the most notable NHL players who developed a gambling problem that disrupted their life.
Gambling Addiction Among Hockey Players
Hockey and gambling have a history. Over the years, there were many great players in the league, and they revolutionized the game. But, even at the peak of their career, some big names in the hockey world gave up everything due to their gambling addiction. We found the top three greatest hockey players who started showing the most common physical signs of gambling addiction and sank even deeper. Eventually, they had to depart the NHL and now serve as reminders of how dangerous gambling can be.
Evander Kane is a Canadian ice hockey player. He’s famous for finishing his second WHL season with 96 points and 48 goals and receiving WHL West First Team All-Star honors. Kane played for the Atlanta Thrashers, the Buffalo Sabres, and the San Jose Sharks, where he’s still playing. During the 2018-2019 season, he totaled 56 points, and in the 2019-2020 preseason, he recorded two hat-tricks.
In 2019, a Las Vegas casino sued the athlete for $500,000 for eight markers worth $20,000-$100,00. The lawsuit was dropped, but Kane admitted his problem, and in January 2021, he listed $1.5 million worth of gambling debt. In July 2021, his estranged wife Anna accused him of throwing games with bookies and betting on his own team. However, no evidence against the athlete has been found so far.
Rick Tocchet is a Canadian professional hockey player who played 18 seasons for the National Hockey League for different teams. Tocchet is a 3-time Stanley Cup champion, two-time Canada Cup winner, and was selected to four NHL All-Star Games. In his 18-year career, the athlete recorded 18 Gordie Howe hat-tricks and totals 440 goals and 952 points.
In 2006, Tocchet was accused of financing a multi-million nationwide sports gambling ring in New Jersey, where several NHL stars wagered. After a while, he pleaded guilty to promoting gambling and conspiracy but denied placing bets on hockey. In 2007, he was sentenced to two years probation, and after that, he was reinstated to serve as an assistant coach.
Jaromir Jagr is a famous hockey player known for winning the Ice Hockey World Championships, the Stanley Cup, and an Olympic gold medal. He entered the Triple Gold Club and joined 28 other players who ever managed to do so. Besides hockey, Jagr had another passion that cost him a lot – gambling.
Immense losses at two gambling sites and huge debts toward the IRS clouded his shiny hockey career. The athlete had accumulated over $3 million in debts in a couple of years. He paid what he owed only after the casinos involved the press.
Gambling Addiction Among Other Athletes
While gambling is a fun leisure activity for most people, it’s a huge temptation for athletes considering the enormous sums of income they have at their disposal. They never give up, and often, that’s why they lose fantastic amounts of cash. Some other famous examples of athletes who fought gambling addiction are NBA All-Star Charles Barkley and professional football players Wayne Rooney and Paul Hornung.
Gambling addiction is no joke and it can affect literally anyone. It doesn’t matter if you make thousands or millions of dollars – everyone can find themselves entangled in its mess. However, with the issue being out in the open, appropriate steps are taken to help those who need it. Take the Player Assistance Program, for example. Through it, NHL players can seek assistance 24/7 and connect with experts for different forms of addiction, including gambling problems. So, hopefully, there won’t be any similar stories like the ones above to tell in the years to come.