The number of National Hockey League players who have become broken — in some cases homeless — seems to be increasing. On Thursday, we learned of one more.
In 1986, Joe Murphy was the first overall pick in the NHL draft, selected by the Detroit Red Wings after a career at Michigan State during which he helped the team win the national championship. It was the first time an NCAA collegiate player had been taken No. 1.
He bounced around the NHL with Detroit, Edmonton (where he won a Stanley Cup), Chicago, St. Louis, San Jose and Boston. He joined the latter team after a tryout with the New York Rangers, a team which he alleged conspired to saw his sticks in half.
Now we know Murphy was in a spiral and it has ended up in familiar territory for some hockey players: on the streets. He’s homeless and has been for years.
He made about $15 million in his NHL career.
“The money lost doesn’t make you a bad person,” he says.
This week, TSN, the Canadian sports network, released a devastating documentary about the effort to find and help him.
Warning: There’s no happy ending.
His friends and family say he wasn’t always this way, that it’s likely the result of a brain injury suffered as a hockey player.
As is usually the case when the subject is broken former players, the NHL wouldn’t comment. Neither would the players union, which TSN says offered help to him a year ago. He wouldn’t take it.
(h/t: Paul Tosto)