Issues off the ice swayed the Kings to take a hard look at how the organization was educating, maintaining, and supporting its players, which ultimately led to General Manager Dean Lombardi’s hiring of former NHL player Brantt Myhres as the Kings’ Player Assistance Director.
“Of course you see guys that are having issues and you want to be able to lend a hand out and say hey, I’ve been there, done that, is there anything I can do to help you."
Myhres knows all too well what it's like to be a young athlete copped under the pressure to battle for security in a mentally, physically demanding career in the National Hockey League.
“If I was able to look back on my career and have somebody at the age of 20, 21, 22 that I could’ve trusted and confided in, and had some support and help, I definitely would’ve used it.”
Myhres, 41 years old, spent parts of eight seasons in the NHL with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Philadelphia Flyers, San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins.
His role was simple yet hard-nosed, racking up 687 penalty minutes in 154 career NHL games. Myhres was hit with four suspensions by the league for what he referred to as “dirty” drug tests, ultimately culminating in a lifetime ban from the league.
Alcoholism and drug addiction can be a hopeless, lonely struggle, and seeking help – especially for a guy who played the tough role as an enforcer in the NHL, can bring upon fears far greater than those faced when dropping the gloves on the ice.
“That was my remedy for getting through the mental anguish of the role of a fighter.” Myhres said of his drug and alcohol use. “Of course it was a big deal, but I didn’t feel like I could really talk to anyone about it, and that’s one of the stigmas about being an athlete; it’s like, I don’t want to sound weak to anybody, because the minute that I sound weak, it may hinder my chances at making a paycheck.”
It was during his time in San Jose from 1998 – 2000, where he met then-Sharks General Manager Dean Lombardi, a team that was coached by Darryl Sutter.
Almost two decades later, Lombardi, looking for a fit in the Kings' organization who could specialize in helping players through off-ice issues, reached out to Myhres over the summer.
“It just so happens Dean was the first general manager to be proactive enough to approach me on it.”
The two have worked together to implement an in-house program for the team, one that feeds off the concept Myhres began on his own years ago.
“After I got sober, close to eight years ago, I built a program; I just wanted to give back and help the players if I could. I came across Dean, we caught up, he was my old General Manager in San Jose, we had a good talk, and obviously after what happened with our organization, we did something.”