Friday, July 6, 2007

Walking The Walk - Drug Use in the NHL

Sean Hill was signed by the Wild today ... this signing would have been lost in a sea of transactions if it was not for Sean Hill being suspended for using the anabolic steroid boldenone. Last year he was popped ... one game left in the NY Islanders playoff future and Sean Hill was busted using performance enhancing drugs.

If you are not aware of the NHL's stance on illegal drug use here is the breakdown:
1st offense - 20 game suspension
2nd offense - 60 game suspension
3rd offense - League expulsion (player can request to be readmitted after waiting 2 years)

I wish more sports leagues would follow this rule ... the NFL, the NBA, what about Major League Baseball ... its a joke! You'll NEVER see an asterisk (*) by any NHL players records.

Sean Hill thought his career was over - he missed the last game of the playoffs for the Islanders 2 months ago because of drug use, and he did not know what his future held. He became the first NHL player to be suspended for violating the league's drug policy. He received a 20-game suspension and will miss the first 19 games of this season because yesterday the Minnesota Wild called him up ...

"For the Wild to come out and tell me they wanted me, I can't tell you the feelings I had," Hill said in a telephone interview Friday, hours after finalizing a one-year deal with the Wild worth $475,000. "I've played a lot of years in this league, and that wasn't the way I wanted to go out."

Under the new collective bargaining agreement, a player receives a 20-game suspension for a first positive test and is subject to a mandatory referral to the league's substance abuse-behavioral health program for evaluation, education and possible treatment. Every NHL player can be given up to two tests without notice every year, at any time. This is a sure way to guarantee that your league and your team is playing ethically.

In this day and age when Role Models in sports are few and far between, its the players in the NHL that are hardly in the negative spotlight. Sean Hill is the FIRST NHL player to be suspended for this activity (Foot note - he says he does not know how the steroid was ingested). I think the NHL should be used as the example for all franchises and sporting leagues when it comes to drug use policy. However, I find it hard to believe that the NFL, NBA or MLB would ever want to cannibalize itself that way. This story breaks close to the same time when Michael Vick is busted housing Pitt Bull dogs on his property, dogs that are used for dog fights and gambling - isnt Michael Vick the same NFL player that tried to conceal his pot in a water bottle while trying to board a flight in Miami last season? He is not one of the smart ones.

Did you ever see the SNL skit regarding this incident ... REALLY!?!?

To add insult to injury ... Sean Hill took a $200,000 + pay cut from last year to go to the Wild. That is the commitment these players have to the sport, the league and the team. Its the passion that drives them to play, the passion to lift the Stanley Cup!!!

Last year Hill had one goal and 24 assists in 81 games for the Islanders. The hard-nosed native of Duluth ranked third in the NHL in hits and sixth in blocked shots. Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro called Hill "one of our most consistent defensemen all season, and an unbelievable character guy."

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