Bob Probert's short, but notorious career with the Detroit Red Wings was dealt perhaps its final blow Saturday when he became the first player expelled from the NHL for getting caught with cocaine.
NHL President John Ziegler said in a written statement the league will not tolerate drug involvement by its players."It is a special privilege to play in the National Hockey League. If you choose to be involved with illegal drugs, you will lose that privilege," Ziegler said. "If (drug use) is your choice, we want you out of our business."
The league's response came two days after the 23-year-old All-Star right wing was caught with 14.3 grams of cocaine in his underwear during a strip search by U.S. Customs agents at the tunnel connecting Detroit and Probert's home town of Windsor, Ontario.
Probert is charged with one count of importing cocaine and could face up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Ziegler said Probert would be allowed a formal hearing after criminal proceedings were settled. Probert's lawyer said such a hearing would be pointless because it appeared that Ziegler already had made up his mind.
Asked if it was a lifetime ban, NHL spokeswoman Shannon Shay said "for now, it is."
Probert, considered one of the toughest fighters in the NHL, has been in alcohol rehabilitation five times and was suspended from the Red Wings twice this season for disciplinary reasons.