Reacting to the arrests of three of their players in less than nine months, the Kings hired former NHL player Brantt Myhres to be the team's Player Assistance Director, according to General Manager Dean Lombardi.
A domestic violence incident involving Slava Voynov and two cases involving allegations of drug possession — Jarret Stoll and Mike Richards — had Kings management exploring avenues to help promote education and enhance awareness for the better part of the summer.
Myhres arrived in Los Angeles over the weekend and will be on hand for Kings' training camp — NHL camps open on Sept. 18 — and available to players and coaches throughout the season.
Myhres is very familiar with the off-ice pitfalls. He played for six NHL teams, was suspended four times by the league for what he called "dirty" drug tests and was later hit with a lifetime ban. He studied substance abuse behavioral health at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada, and said he also had talks with the NHL Players Assn. in July before deciding to join the Kings.
Myhres said he has been clean and sober for more than seven years and long held a vision about assisting current players, circulating proposals to NHL teams and the NHLPA about creating a specific in-house program.
"It just so happens Dean was the first general manager to be proactive enough to approach me on it," Myhres said in an interview with The Times. "This is an in-house program that we've structured. They're going to have every resource available to them whether it's about drugs, alcohol or domestic violence or gambling. They're going to have resources to be able to use at any point of their playing careers."
Myhres, 41, played for Tampa Bay, Philadelphia, San Jose, Nashville, Washington and Boston and first met Lombardi during his Sharks tenure, when he played for current Kings Coach Darryl Sutter. In his playing days, there was no one Myhres could confide in about substance-abuse problems because of a myriad of fears, chiefly job security.
"I just had to keep stuff to myself," he said, describing himself as a chronic relapser in those days. "Back then would I have used a player like myself? Absolutely."
Trust and confidentiality will be hallmarks of the program. Having been through the suspensions, relapses and numerous forms of treatment, Myhres said, chuckling: "There's nothing that these players can say to me that I haven't done 100 times over."
His playing career ended in 2006 and he entered long-term treatment three days before his daughter Chloe was born in 2008. Myhres wasn't allowed to leave the center.
"I didn't see my daughter for the first seven months," he said. "It was really hard on me. They kept telling me, 'If you don't get better, she won't have a dad.' I did whatever it took and the [NHLPA] and the league, they basically saved my life.
"When you struggle with drug and alcohol addiction, you're never a victor. When you go to bed at night and put your head down on the pillow, you've won the day," he said. "I just look at as a day-to-day, spiritual maintenance, that's been working for 7 1/2 years now."
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