When the announcement was made that Brantt Myhres was going to join the Los Angles Kings as Players Assistance Director, a new position designed to address issues of domestic violence and substance abuse among players, many were familiar with the name. A traveled player who played for seven NHL teams, including the Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, Boston Bruins, and Calgary Flames, Myhres had his own demons to slay. Suspended four times for testing positive for banned substances while in the NHL, Myhres was eventually handed a lifetime ban and disappeared from professional hockey, another player unable to handle the pressure and stresses of professional sports.
What many, if not most, hockey fans don’t know is that Brantt Myhres is of first Nations decent from Frog Lake First Nations in Alberta. They also may not be familiar with his work with Aboriginal youth through his organization Greater Strides. As CEO, Myhres has been able to oversee the development and implementation of a hockey academy in Edmonton that not only focuses on skill development for aspiring First Nations hockey players, but also more importantly provides a safe, supportive environment for kids that might not otherwise have such opportunities.
As someone who personally suffered from years of substance abuse that, in his words, nearly took his life more than once, Myhres understands the challenges that professional sports places upon individuals that for one reason or another, may be predisposed to self-destructive behaviors. In 2009, he obtained a Mount Royal Substance Abuse Counseling Certificate and has been sober himself for over seven years, being a true model for students of the academy as well as other aspiring Aboriginal hockey players.
In true Native fashion, Myhres academy takes a holistic approach to not only the player, but also the person. Students must commit to a certain level of academic rigor and overall behavior, all based on a cultural values and norms. In his new position with the Kings, one can expect a similar, albeit culturally different, approach to supporting NHL caliber players that may encounter the same pitfalls he did as a player. And in many ways, Myhres continues to be a role model as he shows there is life after the deepest depths of darkness – in fact a pretty good one.
Learn more about Myhres’ Greater Strides academy on the official Greater Strides web site.