EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Last season, the Los Angeles Kings were in the news for all the wrong reasons.
The team created headlines for both domestic violence and illegal drugs. This made an impression with general manager Dean Lombardi who has vowed to better educate his players to make them more understanding of these problems.
On Monday, Los Angeles gave the specifics on how they intend to give their players more understanding on drugs and violence against the opposite sex.
The Kings said they have partnered with The Herren Project to talk to players about drugs and alcohol abuse.
The team will also undergo sexual harassment training. The Kings will create a new position of Player Assistance which the team says will “focus on the challenges of addiction and substance abuse.”
Former NHL player Brantt Myhres will hold this position.
"It’s just another resource for us players, and the more you have the better and easier it is to get help if you need it, and everything is just about trying to prevent stuff like this from happening again and again," captain Dustin Brown said.
Defenseman Drew Doughty sees Myhres as someone who can be a confidant to players on multiple topics during the season.
"Sometimes things are frustrating for you throughout the season. Things aren’t going your way on the ice, whether you’re not getting enough ice time or you feel like you’re not playing well," Doughty said. "Sometimes you don’t want to go to the coach or general manager with that, so he’s a guy you can talk to about that."
The Kings will be part of a “conduct awareness program” created by owner AEG.
“These programs are now part of the development process for all of our players. No longer can we solely focus on their growth and education as just hockey players; we need to give them the tools to thrive as people, too. These programs will extend to their family lives and empower them with strategies to best manage their positive development off the ice,” Lombardi said in a statement.
The Kings have also created a partnership with Peace over Violence, an anti-violence center in Los Angeles which, “is dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.”
In June, Lombardi said the team would take such measures at the start of the upcoming season, but didn’t relay much detail beyond saying The Herren Project would be involved.
The organization is run by Chris Herren, a former NBA player who struggled with drug and alcohol abuse.
Last season, Los Angeles defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested and charged for domestic abuse against his wife. He later pled no-contest to misdemeanors and has announced his intention to depart the United States.
Center Jarret Stoll was arrested at a Las Vegas pool and charged with drug possession – cocaine. He also pled guilty to lesser charges and since signed with the New York Rangers as an unrestricted free agent.
Center Mike Richards was involved in a border crossing issue with the prescription pain killer oxycodone and was eventually charged by the Manitoba RCMP for possession of a controlled substance while entering Canada. The Kings have tried to terminate his contract.
"I definitely think it’s important to address. It’s unfortunate those things had to happem to us the last year. Everyone is aware of them. If anything it has made our team closer," Doughty said. "Everyone in here is family and we all love each other and we have to go through these things to learn more about it and have more awareness. I think it’s going to be good for everybody."
Domestic violence has become a hot-button issue in pro sports the last year, between the NFL’s handling of Ray Rice to the NHL with Voynov.
Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is currently under investigation for rape for an incident that allegedly occurred in early August.
NHL players speaking on a condition of anonymity told Puck Daddy that domestic violence is discussed but not with a high level of detail.
“It’s tough. It’s one of those things that is part of the CBA. Guys, to be real honest, aren’t real excited about that. Usually it’s at the end of a practice day or between game days or at some point during the season,” a veteran player said. “There’s usually a whole lot of other things on your mind, it’s one of those things you know is important but at the same time it’s mandated by the league and the PA so you have to go and everybody approaches it differently. But it’s one of those things that you’re not super excited to go to.”
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