KITCHENER—The Ontario Hockey League has launched an investigation after former Kitchener Rangers forward Eric Guest says he was forced to use cocaine by an older player while playing for the club during his rookie season.
The explosive allegation was part of a video lasting 14 minutes and 59 seconds posted to Guest’s Instagram account in which he also talks about drinking at team parties, smoking marijuana, hating his billet house and not feeling comfortable approaching team coaches or management about these issues.
“For me a lot of this stuff … I would never say anything along these lines when I was still playing because you can’t,” he said in the video. “If I said something or talked about some of this stuff, like, any chance I had of playing professional hockey or anything was over instantly.
“It is what it is. But it’s not right. You can’t go to your coaches, your GMs and say this stuff is happening in the locker-room. They just don’t know about it. But this kind of stuff happens.”
The OHL learned about the video Monday night and reached out to Guest on Tuesday to gather more information.
“These allegations constitute a serious violation of OHL rules and include allegations of criminal conduct,” a statement issued by the league read. “Once we have spoken to Eric we will have a better understanding of the next steps.”
The Rangers also found out about the allegations on Monday night and issued a statement Tuesday.
“These allegations involve former players with our team and are extremely serious and potentially criminal conduct,” it read. “As a result, we have contacted the Waterloo Regional Police Services. We will participate with the commissioner and the league in their investigation.”
The club will not make any further comment until the investigation is complete.
Guest’s family watched the online OHL draft on a TV at their London-area house in 2016. The excitement reached a fever pitch when the Rangers selected him in the third round (47th overall) and then signed him to a contract soon after.
But things took a turn, according to him, about a month into his three-year run with the club.
Guest was 16 and had just moved to Kitchener when he says he attended a team party.
“Sorry, this is not easy to talk about,” he says in the emotional video. “We had a team party and obviously the guys are making me drink and stuff.”
It’s at this party that Guest claims an older teammate, who he refuses to name, asked him and another young Rangers player to come with him to the bathroom.
“So he takes me and this other kid into the bathroom,” Guest says in the video. “He locks the door and … he said you guys aren’t leaving this bathroom until you do this. He said you’re not leaving the bathroom until you do cocaine, basically is what happened.
“When you’re young in that league and like these teams, you listen to what the older guys tell you. You don’t really have a voice. You don’t fight back. You can’t, none of that. They have power. They rule you.
“I’m 16. I’ve never even really partied or anything. What am I supposed to do there? That s*** should not be happening. I don’t know if other stuff happens like that but for me, that’s what happened to me. Should it have happened? No. Did it? Yeah.”
Guest also had issues with his billet house during his freshman campaign.
“It’s not easy to move away into another person’s house when you’re 16,” he said. “For me, I hated my billet house. I couldn’t stand it. But you don’t have much say, you don’t have much power. When you’re 16 you don’t want to cause problems and ask for different billet houses and this kind of thing.
“You’re just trying to do anything you can to not be problematic and fly under the radar. I hated this house.”
Guest said he found solace in confiding in a guidance counsellor at Grand River Collegiate Institute and eventually switched billets to move in with the counsellor.
“I’d go in there and I’d talk to her every day and I’d complain and I’d cry and tell her I don’t like being in this house and she knew that,” he said.
“For parents that are like willing to let your kids go away that young, yeah, let them go pursue their dreams. You have to let them chase their dreams. You can’t stop that but there is stuff going on out there that you probably don’t know about.
“I lied to my parents for years when I lived there and said like oh I’m fine. I’m doing well, like I’m mentally OK, like all that stuff. I lied to them because I wanted to play in the NHL. Maybe if I would have said to my parents that I hate it here, maybe they would have took me home or something. It’s tough.
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“When you’re in that situation you’re going to do anything you can. You’re going to bury your feelings, your thoughts and try and make that dream come true. That’s what I was doing.”
Guest says he was also self medicating.
“For me, I started smoking weed a lot. Like a lot, a lot,” he said.
The 20-year-old says he has cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome which causes nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps due to use of marijuana. It got so bad, he adds, that he had to be hospitalized and says he lost 35 to 40 pounds one summer because of it.
The stress of junior hockey and the pressure of being a top prospect didn’t help.
“(I’d) go to Kitchener, have the season start going again,” he said. “It wouldn’t be going well. Knowing in my head that I have this and I can’t smoke weed, I would still start smoking weed again to try and help that anxiety and stuff I was going through.”
Guest spent parts of three seasons with the Rangers but returned to his home in February of 2019 and never played another game for the club. At the time, out of respect for his privacy, the team did not elaborate on his condition.
Since leaving the team, Guest has opened up about his struggle with mental health issues, depression and suicidal thoughts. He said he spent 45 days in a psychiatric ward and called it the “lowest lows.”
“That stuff can happen fast,” he says. “Especially like hockey, people they drink, it’s like a partying lifestyle almost going through junior hockey and whatnot. I’ve seen it. Drinking problems, drug problems. It’s super common. Obviously it’s a young age but you see it developing and it’s sad. But that’s the reality of what’s going on.”
There are a series of resources available to players struggling with mental health in the OHL.
The Rangers’ staff have an open-door policy and encourage players to talk to staff or management if they’re ever struggling. The team also has a sports psychologist on staff that can help and offer referrals if needed.
Every player must complete the league’s safeTALK program when they join the league which, among other things, addresses topics such as self-harming.
And the OHL has also teamed up with the Canadian Mental Health Association in each member city with their Talk Today program which provides resources for players such as a 24-hour help line and in-person meetings with qualified professionals.
Guest said by sharing his experiences that he wasn’t trying to make the video negative or “trash anything about hockey or any place I’ve played.” He says he doesn’t regret anything and that hockey gave him everything he has.
“It’s strictly to just shed light on things that happened in the hockey world and that’s happened to me in my life,” he said.
When contacted for further comment Guest declined adding that he wants to stick to using Instagram to get his message out.
Correction – June 16: This article was edited from a previous version that mistakenly included an incorrect photo. The photo was of another Kitchener Rangers player but was misidentified as Eric Guest.