Former North American Hockey League bench boss Chuck Linkenheld is a good friend and somebody I have a lot of respect for. In light of a number of recent issues regarding marijuana and other various drugs of choice, I thought it would be very appropriate to share my friend’s thoughts on the subject.
By Chuck Linkenheld April 2012
In today's world most job interviews require mandatory drug testing. Corporations, unions and even smaller companies require different levels of drug testing. Heck you can't work for the government or join the military without a drug test. If you do drugs you may as well sit at home and do just that-drugs!
If we want to hire someone at let's say a base salary of $50,000, we would need to have them pass a drug test and sign a paper approving random testing at our request. If they fail it is game over. Now let some colleges invest $50,000 a year in a student athlete/hockey player who gets the equivalent of a four year employment contract (for comparison sakes) which our base salary employee does not get. This student athlete most times can smoke, toke, and snort until the cows come home and maybe he gets caught and maybe not. If I am a college hockey program I want to drug test any player before, during, and after I commit a $200,000 education to this young man and his family.
Now let's look at junior hockey. Do you think the Tier 1 and II clubs have invested money in their players drafted, tendered, or rostered? You're damn right they do! Test them all. Drugs at the junior level are a problem just like the rest of society. I know firsthand from my experiences sending players home for not passing drug tests or not being willing to be tested. Just look at pro sports trades and what criteria and parameters are set prior to the trade being official. They conduct a thorough physical and even an extensive personality test and or interview before they pull the trigger and invest in a player.
Certainly we can't ignore youth hockey and particularly high school age players. In my opinion this is where it starts. If you do any kind of drugs at this age get out of sports and go hang out with someone else until it is time for rehab! Parents need to pull their head out of the sand and do a little investigating and spying. Don't make it so damn easy for your potential junior and college player to ruin their hockey career and maybe their life. If you know they smoke the goof then suspend them yourself. Listen I didn't grow up blind and stupid and I know kids make mistakes like we all did but parents can keep them from making the same mistake twice and creating public embarrassment and headline news. Do the math. If I catch my kid and I spend $10,000 per year on hockey I can save all that cash for their eventual rehab. Heck I could buy the pot supply for them and still make out with a whole lot of savings.
Folks it isn't funny. It is very scary and we need to address it now. I have lost many teammates and players over the years to drugs and alcohol, some who had pro ability and college smarts. The equation is simple; if you want to go to college you study and get good grades. If you want to play sports you train and take care of your body. If you want to party your butt off get out of hockey. Stop trying to fool everyone and waste their time and money. Last but most important- I VOTE FOR MANDATORY DRUG TESTING FROM HIGH SCHOOL FRESHMEN ALL THE WAY THROUGH JUNIOR, COLLEGE, AND PRO HOCKEY.
Author: Stephen Heisler
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.
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