But it turned out the fifth time was the charm for Myhres. And about six years after he sent that proposal to the league, he got a call from Dean Lombardi, then GM of the L.A. Kings, looking for help. About a week earlier, star forward Mike Richards had been arrested at the Canada-U.S. border with oxycodone in his possession, and that same season fellow Kings forward Jarret Stoll was booked on the suspicion that he had cocaine and ecstasy at a pool party in Las Vegas.
Lombardi didn’t mince words: He asked Myhres how they could structure the role he’d mapped out years earlier as an in-house job in L.A. “It didn’t take very long for us to agree on most of it,” Myhres says. “I’d figured out a lot of it seven years earlier.” That off-season, the Kings became the first franchise in NHL history with a Director of Player Assistance. Myhres came up with the job title.
For the next three seasons, Myhres spent 20 days of every month with the Kings. “I felt it was imperative that I was involved in the day-to-day functions of the team in order to build that trust with the guys,” he says. “You can’t come in once a month for a couple days, you have to be integrated in the day-to-day stuff the team’s doing, and that’s how you build the trust, not only with the players but with the trainers and with all of the staff.” On his days off, he headed back to Edmonton to see his daughter, Chloe. He can’t and won’t say how many players he helped in that time, due to confidentiality, but he will say this: “We had no unmanageable incidences in the three years that I was employed by the Kings.” In other words, no players in L.A. had to make use of the NHL and NHLPA’s Substance Abuse and Behavioural Health Program (SABH). “That’s me doing my job,” Myhres says.
At least, it was. Last summer, after Lombardi and Sutter were fired and Rob Blake and John Stevens took over, Myhres’s contract wasn’t extended, leaving McGrattan as the lone Director of Player Assistance in the league. Myhres is grateful for the three years he spent with the organization, and says simply, “the vision changed.”
The Kings now have a Director of Player Health and Performance on staff, in Dr. John Meyer. The team declined a request for an interview, but said via email that when it comes to support for players with personal issues, they use “outside services tailored for each individual as we have seen every situation as being different.”
Originally published at https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/brian-mcgrattan-calgary-flames-player-assistance-big-read/