Red Wings’ Sheahan should be released

Riley Sheahan was the Detroit Red Wings first round selection in the 2010 NHL Draft.

The word “Teletubby” is this week’s joke around the NHL. People snicker at a hockey player dressed in a purple Halloween costume; they think it’s funny to see Riley Sheahan in a drunken mess, all while donning Tinky Winky’s PBS wardrobe.

But there’s nothing funny about Sheahan’s Oct. 30 DUI arrest in downtown Grand Rapids. There’s nothing funny about a 20-year old operating a 3,000-pound car as if it’s a go-kart. There’s nothing funny about Sheahan driving the wrong way on a one-way street , all while owning a blood-alcohol content of .30, which is classified as “super drunk” by Michigan law.

Nothing funny at all.

Sheahan, however, comes out of this incident virtually unscathed: He still has a job with the greatest hockey franchise in North America. He’s still playing for the Grand Rapids Griffins, the Wings’ AHL affiliate, which means he’s a lockout-lifting deal away from playing at Joe Louis Arena, a hockey palace with Cup banners and retired numbers hanging in the majestic rafters.

Oh, Sheahan might get some community service and probation, but let’s be real: It’s a slap on the wrist. He’s still a kid fulfilling his dream – and what a dream it is to wear the Winged Wheel.

Ken Holland failed, big time. That’s the brutal truth. He should help Sheahan the best way possible – by releasing him. That might send a stern message, a learning lesson, something needed for a kid who now has two arrests with alcohol, the first being a public intoxication in 2010 as a freshman at Notre Dame.

Holland might be a hockey mastermind for erecting four Stanley Cup championships, but he looks like a numbskull in his failure to inflict much-needed discipline.

No concern that Sheahan has a problem, Kenny?

“We’re gathering information internally and making decisions on what we can do to help him, if he needs help,” Holland told the Detroit Free Press.

If he needs help?

A blood-alcohol content of .30 isn’t a sign he needs help? How about driving the wrong way on a one-way street? How about telling two cops he was “Brendan Smith”?

Get some guts, Holland. You’re supposed to make the determination, here. You’re supposed to be the leader. “If he needs help”? What’s Sheahan gonna do, raise his hand and admit guilt?

Holland’s soft stance on this dampens the severity of drinking and driving. That’s the message it sends, at least. The right move is to terminate Sheahan’s contract and say the organization has a zero-tolerance policy for such actions. Maybe that would send a good message to the public, because the next time a Wings fan drives “super drunk,” they’re fired from their place of employment– and good luck finding a new job for a while, since prospectors would be hesitant to hire an imbecile who endangers civilization.

Holland, however, doesn’t grasp the concept. He’s more concerned about the Wings’ future in the Central Division, rather than the future of a 20-year old who’s likely looking forward to his next party.

You failed, Kenny.

When a grown man named Gary Moeller was arrested in 1995 for an alcohol-related embarrassment, he lost his job as University of Michigan football coach. That’s how you send a message: the hard way.

Here’s an even better comparison: in October, TCU quarterback Casey Pachall was arrested for driving while intoxicated, a blood-alcohol content above.17, which doubles the legal limit in Texas.

What happened to him? TCU coach Gary Patterson suspended Pachall indefinitely, and found him help.

“(He’s) suspended from competition until we come up with a good answer for him, how we’re going to handle life and how we’re going to do things,” Patterson said during his weekly radio show on SiriusXM radio, according to

Sheahan should’ve experienced a similar fate. Thank God he didn’t kill anyone. He could barely stand during a sobriety test . Watch the video. It’s scary to think he was steering a 3,000 pound piece of metal, recklessly.

The Wings organization, however, does not seem to care. They sat Sheahan one measly game and allowed him to skate just five days after the incident.

That’s ridiculous.

“Obviously, Riley made a very poor decision,” Holland told the freep.

Obviously, you did too, Kenny. Shame on you.

8 replies on “Red Wings’ Sheahan should be released

  • rob

    Very well written piece Bruce.

    So should the Tigers have released Miguel Cabrera? While I am in no way endorsing what Sheahan did, I don’t see what Holand’s doing anything more then protecting his franchise’s investment. While I understand the need to try and tie this story to past alcohol related headlines I believe that is stretch and also doing a disservice. Lets pretend it was a family member, whats the reaction? You let the legal system do its part and you internally punish accordingly, how is that any different then what the Red Wings are doing?

    As someone that has had a DUI in the past, lets be thankful nobody was hurt by Sheahans irresponsibility and hope Riley has learned a life lesson from this

  • B Luedecking

    I thought the law was for everyone not those that are poor and can’t afford big fines… This is not a good roll model for our teens. Go out get drunk, drive down the road fast on one way streets. What message are you sending to the rest of the team… GO OUT GET DRUNK NO PROBLEM.. I WAS A BIG Red Wings and Griffiths fan… I do not want to be associated with either one if that is what is going to happen… He is a MINOR DRUNK almost 4 times the legal limit.. HE NEEDS TO GO. FIRED. NO PAY. GO TO JAIL like the rest of the drunks… My son was killed by a drunk driver the day before his birthday left a wife 2 kids, 1 on the way. The driver a Minor way over the limit, suspended license, no insurance, improper plate, pulled the emergency brake on a curve on ice because he thought it was funny. Got 30 days in jail, 5 years probation. Since then I heard he killed a police officer with a wife and 3 kids. that’s 2 families he ruined and destroyed.. If he would have been stopped the first time that officers family would still have him… Is that what your waiting for???? For him to kill someone… I buried my son hope you can think about that long and hard and see how you would feel…
    Hope you change your mind if you don’t taking both my albums of the teams off Facebook and never watching another game again. I am sure I won’t be the only one…

  • J. Conrad Guest

    Celebrities, and athletes are celebrities, live in a different world than ours, Bruce.

    Certainly if it were you or me caught under similar circumstances, we’d be up to our chins in legal fees and time in jail and who knows what else. But Sheahan? A gifted talent in a society that is addicted to hero-worship, a hockey player in whom the Wings have invested? Well, they have to protect that interest, don’t they?

    It’s an unfair world in which we live, to be sure.

    A fine post, Bruce.

  • J. Conrad Guest

    My condolences to you on your losses, B Luedecking.

    You’re absolutely right. I used to think the penalties for first time offenders was too strict. Certainly there were times in my youth that I drove when I shouldn’t have. I was very fortunate that I never hurt someone.

    Too many people make the mistake of thinking that driving is a right and not a privilege and a responsibility. It’s a lethal weapon whether one is sober or drunk behind the wheel.

    While I agree that his team is family and he should be treated as such, I also think this kid should be made a poster child for drunk driving. You want to make a statement against drunk driving, use a celebrity. They should be held to the same standard as the rest of us.

  • Gary Steinke

    I guess its time to fire Ken Holland too, huh Bruce? This kid need substance abuse treatment, he doesn’t need to be fired from his job. Do you know for a fact that the Wings aren’t trying to get Sheahan some help? Remember a guy named Probert who played for the Wings? He spent many a days at Holly Gardens Substance Abuse Rehab because the owner of the Wings DOES care about his players. But I guess the best way to help someone is to fire them. Whose the real numbskull here Bruce?

  • J. Conrad Guest

    Gary: I think the message here is that Sheahan got off easy, far too easy. What kind of message does it send a kid that age when the organization sits him for only game?

    I’m all for giving second chances, but the Wings here, in this instance, aren’t really giving the kid a second chance because, based on their punishment, he hasn’t used up his first chance.

    I’m sure we don’t know the whole story, what was said to him and by who in the Wings organization; but thus far, from what is known, Sheahan indeed got off easy. Far easier than many of us, in corporate America and elsewhere, would.

    Granted, he still has a court appearance that, hopefully, will send him a stronger message than that of the Wings.

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