NHL In Las Vegas – Can Players Handle The Lifestyle?


Temptation. Gambling. Personal Pleasures.

These are just some of the words that come to mind when someone mentions “Las Vegas”. If you were to ask a few National Hockey League players what words come to mind, or any sports athlete for that matter – you could probably assume one of those words would be “Distractions.”

A lot of talk has surrounded Las Vegas lately in regards to a new team in the NHL, but Bettman has wisely reiterated that the league has not decided to expand the 30-team league. Expanding the league is probably the least of the concerns. There lies problematic concerns of player trust, player safety and a liability of a consistent fan base for a city that thrives on the nightlife.

A concern about having a team in Las Vegas is what exactly the Vegas lifestyle and surroundings are all about. Alcohol is a big issue in the NHL and not only does it affect a player’s life, it can directly impact a player’s game on the ice. Will gambling be the next controversial topic on the NHL’s agenda? With influences like gambling being right around the corner for teams living in Vegas, you have to take into account the possible outcomes. “Are these players susceptible to breaking curfew more often now?” “Are they at risk of getting addicted to gambling?” or how about “Are players, coaches, and refs more a liability to gamble on their own games?”

As mentioned before, alcohol has become a bit of an issue in the NHL. It seems every couple of years or so a player makes the news that involved abusing alcohol, and sometimes it’s not a big deal. Maybe a little argument with a fan at the local bar, or maybe you are punching a taxi driver in the face (that would be a big deal). Take a look at a player like Mike Ribeiro though; His lifestyle for a good portion of his career was about hockey and partying the night away. How bad was his personal battle with alcohol and drugs? Don Maloney had Ribeiro’s remaining three years of his contract bought out because of his quoted “troubling behavior.” What makes Vegas unique is that bars are opened 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Most states have laws requiring bars to close at certain times.

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Now, gambling. Gambling is legal in Las Vegas, obviously. What we don’t want is gambling influencing the outcome of the game. It’s happened in all sports. Tim Donaghy of the National Basketball League, Pete Rose and the Chicago Black Sox of Major League Baseball. It’s rarely happened, of course, but when it does, it’s a big controversy. Fans are probably most likely willing to give the benefit of the doubt that they can trust the NHL not to go down this road, but the influence is great when all you have to do is walk down the block and place a bet.

What this article is trying to get across is that the NHL needs to make sure the team that is located in Las Vegas, needs to do this right. Heavily monitor the team and don’t succumb to all the temptation Las Vegas is. Players come to the league at a young age and while they are dedicated to their career, they also are not as responsible. In reality, alcohol shouldn’t be allowed during the season. What’s the point of it anyway? It doesn’t benefit your game. It also leads you to do things you would have never thought of doing, like drugs, for example. It’s not hard to blow cash away when you make a lot of money at a young age.