From addiction to recovery: Former NHL hockey player Brantt Myhres releases new memoir
TORONTO -- After playing 154 games and being permanently banned from the NHL for substance abuse, former Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Brantt Myhres is opening up about his battle with addiction in a new memoir titled “Pain Killer.”
The Edmonton-born Myhres was just 18 years old when he started his professional career. In 1992, he was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning and later played for the Philadelphia Flyers and Boston Bruins, among others.
During his time with the NHL, he recorded 687 penalty minutes and lived an even harder life off the ice where he abused alcohol and cocaine to take off the anxiety of fighting. He was suspended from the league four times for failing drug tests and was ultimately given a lifetime ban from the NHL in 2006.
“It’s still tough to get over,” Myhres told CTV’s Your Morning on Thursday. “I had a lot of stuff [in the book] that I guess you could say I was embarrassed about.”
He added, “Back then, there [were] no support roles for me.”
Myhres says at the time of his addiction struggles there were some people he could have reached out to for help, but they were also the same people who signed his cheques.
“I kept it under the radar… I didn’t want to lose my job,” he said.
Following his departure from the league, Myhres took some time to focus on his health and sobriety, before returning to school at Mount Royal University in Calgary where he studied substance abuse behavioural health.
In September 2015, Myhres was tapped by the head of the Los Angeles Kings to come on board as the team’s sobriety coach. Myhres spent several years working with the Kings as an extra support system for its players.
“It was just so awesome walking into an area finally with my head up high and having no guilt or shame behind it,” he said. “I was leading such a double life for so many years.”
After 13 years of sobriety, Myhres – who is also the parent of a 13-year-old daughter – says that he now wakes up and enters the rink with a big smile on his face.
His new memoir, “Pain Killer: A Memoir of Big League Addiction” was published by Penguin Random House on Feb. 16.