As new generations of athletes sweep turn pro, they tend to bring new interests. The current generation's craze? Video games. Athletes gaming is nothing new, but according to NHL reporter Jeff Marek, one NHL draftee has taken it to the next level. According to Marek, speaking on a recent episode of Sportsnet podcast "31 Thoughts," the unnamed prospect from the CHL is jeopardizing his NHL career with video game addiction by playing late into the night and burning himself out for the next day.
The prospect, who Marek says is "a recent first-round draft pick for a very, very prominent NHL team," has sought counseling for his addiction, according to Marek, but is unlikely to play in the NHL. The full quote, which can be found on the podcast, is shrouded in vagueness, but it does have hints.
On video games – and I'm not gonna say the player's name. I really doubt he's going to make it to the NHL, and it's because of a video game addiction. To the point where his general manager told me -- his junior general manager told me -- that they've had him go to counseling over it. Because he'll play until all hours of the night and into the morning and then he'll have no energy the next day. Like, he'll be a write-off. And it is that bad. He has ... this compulsion for playing video games till all hours. I swore upon ... that I wouldn't say the player's name, but it's unfortunate.
I mean, he's a recent first-round draft pick for a very, very prominent NHL team, will probably never play in the NHL because of a video game addiction.
Without delving too deep into speculation, "a very, very prominent NHL team" likely refers to either an Original Six team or a team enjoying prolonged success. With no offense meant toward Coyotes, Hurricanes or Panthers fans, they probably don't need to worry much.
This draft pick's addiction has been noted by his GM already, and according to Marek, the information is six months to a year old. "This guy is a good junior player -- I mean this guy's a good player -- and was a high pick," Marek continued. "But there's a good chance he's not going to make it to the NHL and his general manager said: 'Yeah, the video game addiction is bad. It's bad with this kid.'"
Something like this happening felt like a bit of an inevitability. Obviously athletes can't be athletes all the time, they need to unwind, but some players take gaming incredibly seriously. Lakers guard Josh Hart, for example, "Fortnite" with then-teammate Larry Nance Jr. for 10 hours straight. Ben Simmons and Karl Anthony Towns "Player Unknown Battlegrounds" because the Timberwolves played the Hawks the next day. Even as recently as Thursday night David Price delivered a complete game, two-run effort against the Orioles in his first game since quitting playing "Fortnite" at the ballpark. Price is recovering from carpal tunnel syndrome, which he insists isn't from the game, per NPR.
Marek's co-host Elliotte Friedman suggested something similar to Price's resolution on the podcast, which was that teams will ban games on the road after a certain part of the season, much like golf clubs.
But all of these stories are fun little quirky tidbits, with the exception of Price's if he's lying about how his carpal tunnel came to be. A promising NHL prospect potentially losing his career may be a turning point for the video game era in sports. Players streaming on Twitch has become more popular and allowed people to get closer than ever to their favorite athletes, but once it starts impairing their ability to play, we may see teams start scouting out how much players game -- and we may see players adjust accordingly by dropping the games.