Off-court fouls

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Professional athletes are no strangers to driving under the influence

Autumn McDowell
Sports Editor

It’s no secret that athletes like to party, and it’s even less of a secret that they like to tip more than a few back. Whether they are celebrating a win or drowning their sorrows after a loss, professional athletes can get a little out of control. The Carillon presents some athletes who took things too far.

Craig McTavish, hockey player

Before McTavish earned his job as a TSN commentator, and even before his stint as the Edmonton Oilers head coach, he was a fantastic hockey player. McTavish was drafted 153rd overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1978 NHL entry draft. After bouncing back and forth between the Bruins and their AHL affiliate, McTavish finally found a permanent home in the show with the Bruins in 1981. However, after three solid years with the Black and Yellow, McTavish suffered a large setback.

On Jan. 25, 1984, McTavish was driving at night when he hit a woman while he was under the influence of alcohol. The woman later died in hospital due to injuries that she sustained in the incident. After pleading guilty to vehicular homicide and DUI, McTavish spent one year in jail, thus missing the 1984-85 season that he would have spent in the NHL.

McTavish went on to have a successful playing career, winning four Stanley Cups, three with Edmonton and one with the New York Rangers.

Donté Stallworth, football player

Fans may remember Stallworth for being drafted to the New Orleans Saints in the first round, 13th overall, in the 2002 NFL entry draft after an impressive college career at the University of Tennessee. From 2002-08, Stallworth spent time with the Philadelphia Eagles, New England Patriots, and Cleveland Browns, before his life was drastically changed on March 14, 2009.

Stallworth drove his Bentley Coupe to get food the morning after a night of partying when he hit and killed a pedestrian who was just coming off of his shift as a crane operator. After boozing the night before, Stallworth allegedly took a cab home to sleep off the copious amounts of alcohol that he had consumed. However, when Stallworth drove the next morning. he was still legally drunk. He was charged with DUI and second-degree manslaughter on April 1, 2009, and was suspended without pay for the entire 2009 NFL season.

Since the incident, Stallworth has spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins, but he has yet to post the big numbers that he was once accustomed to.

Nikolai Khabibulin, hockey player

Khabibulin, also known as “The Bulin Wall”. has been playing professional hockey since 1989. Throughout the years, Khabibulin spent much of his time in the International Hockey League and the Russian Super league before he was swapped around to five different NHL teams. Khabibulin seems to have found a good fit with his sixth NHL team, the Edmonton Oilers, though things are going quite well for the goaltender on the ice, off ice is another story.

On Feb. 8, 2010, Khabibulin, was pulled over by police after he was caught driving roughly 25 kilometers over the speed limit. Upon being pulled over, police noticed various signs that the Russian goalie was indeed intoxicated. After a failed sobriety test, he was arrested and eventually found guilty of speeding, extreme DUI, and DUI over the .08 level. The Edmonton Oiler was sentenced to 30 days in jail. Although he originally appealed the sentence, Khabibulin has since withdrawn the appeal and will spend 15 days in jail and 15 under house arrest.

Tonya Harding, figure skater

Harding became known around the world after an infamous scandal that took place on Jan. 6, 1994. Harding’s-then-husband, Jeff Gillooly, and bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt, hired Shane Stant to break Nancy Kerrigan’s leg so that she could not compete against Harding in the U.S. figure skating championships.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t be the only time that Harding would make the news because of rather unusual activity. After having a sex tape, being involved in a car chase, and apparently being kidnapped at knife point, Harding was told to stay away from alcohol numerous times.

Harding was first charged with a DUI in 2002, after she got into a car accident, and then again in 2005, after getting into a fight with her then boyfriend at her home in Washington.

Despite an impressive figure skating career, Harding is rarely mentioned for her athletic accomplishments, but rather for her crazy off-ice antics.

Dustin Byfuglien, hockey player

From being named a Stanley Cup champion one year to being charged with a DUI the next, it has been an eventful couple of years for Byfuglien. Byfuglien, or “Big Buff” as his teammates call him, did not receive his DUI on land, but on water.

On the night of Aug. 31, Byfuglien was pulled over by a water control officer because the navigation lights on the boat that Byfuglien was operating were not on. After pulling up to the boat and attempting to speak with the NHL star, the water officer noticed signs that pointed towards intoxication. According to court documents, Byfuglien passed a breathalyzer test, but then refused to give a blood or urine sample.

The Winnipeg Jets defenceman was eventually charged with, among other things, third-degree boating while intoxicated, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail.

However, on Friday, Oct. 21, it was announced that Byfuglien has pleaded not guilty to the charges from the boating incident.

Honourable mention
Patrick Kane, hockey player

Kane, a former first-overall NHL draft pick, got himself into a sticky situation after a night of partying in Buffalo.

Kane and his cousin, James Kane, were doing the safe thing by taking a cab home after a night of boozing on Aug. 9, 2009. However, the two Kane boys probably could have done without the theft charges that ensued.

When the Kane duo’s cab far came out to $14.80, they handed the cab driver $15.00. Any normal human being would tell the cabbie to keep the 20 cents after apologizing profusely for the horrible tip that they are about to receive. However, Team Kane thought that they deserved exact change, and would not leave until they had it.

On Aug. 17, 2009 Kane plead guilty and was charged with second-degree robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief, and theft of services. He was eventually cleared of all felony charges, but both were ordered to apologize to the cabbie.

It’s incidents like these that you almost hope alcohol was involved, so that Kane and his cousin have some sort of excuse for their outlandish behaviour. Also. In case Mr. Kane was unaware, he makes just a little bit more than that cab driver ever will and could surely spare two dimes.

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