Former No. 1 NHL draft pick is homeless

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.


(See video)

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)

  • Man, what a sad story…

  • Brian Simon

    The way our society treats people is abysmal. The athletes get put on pedestals at early ages, groomed for our entertainment. Few achieve the fame & monetary “success” that some call the american dream. Many are discarded aling the way, with limited alternate skills or training on which to fall back.

  • Cal

    Think of the amazing care he could be getting if he had someone to help him when he was first in the throes of his TBI / CTE (and hadn’t squandered his millions and millions and millions and millions of dollars).

  • lindblomeagles

    The question is why hasn’t the American media focused on NHL brain injuries the way it has focused on NFL brain injuries?

    • Dan Lind

      Because there has not been significant studies on the effects of TBI’s on NHL players in the same manner as there has been for former NFL players. The movie ‘Concussion’ really helped to bring the football issue into the media spotlight; hockey simply is not on the radar though IMO it absolutely should be. Faster speeds, less head protection, absolutely similar brain-jarring results.

  • William Alexander

    CTE doesn’t explain losing 15 million. Tons of players likely suffered brain injuries as players before concussions were thought of as major problems. He should be shacked up and coasting for the rest of his life, CTE or not. Im sorry but I have little sympathy beyond basic decency. I hope he gets back on his feet in the best way, but I passed a homeless guy today standing in the median of a 4 lane lane road holding a sign if traffic stopped next to him. Guaranteed he never even had close to the chances Joe Murphy had. I don’t know what this story is supposed to say since I don’t think it has much to do with CTE.