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Magazine Says NHL Oilers Have Drug Problem

May 07, 1986

Sports Illustrated quotes unidentified sources in its latest edition as saying several players on the Edmonton Oilers, dethroned last week as National Hockey League champions, have been involved with cocaine and other illegal drugs.

The report, in the magazine's May 12 edition, did not identify any of the players or sources of the information. One person, identified only as a former "Oiler insider," said "at least five team members have had 'substantial' cocaine problems," the magazine reported.

The magazine did quote Sgt. Hal Johnson, head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police's Edmonton drug squad, as saying the Mounties have received unsubstantiated reports of drug use among team members.

"We've had information passed to us," he said. "We do not have evidence to lay charges, but we have information that there are users on the club."

The Oilers refused comment on specifics of the story.

Oiler Coach Glen Sather, interviewed after the two-time Stanley Cup champions were eliminated from the playoffs by the Calgary Flames, was quoted as saying he knew of no serious drug problems among his players.

"I'm not so naive to think that no one on this hockey club has been exposed to something they shouldn't have," Sather said. "Any kind of drugs you want to find I'm sure has been exposed to this team at one time or another.

"If a guy goes to a party, gets drunk or sniffs a line of cocaine or smokes a joint, that doesn't make him a compulsive user or dealer or anything. That makes him a guy who went to a party and had a good time. If it becomes a habit, if he gets caught, then you've got a problem. But until it's a problem I can't do anything with it."

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