NEW YORK, SEPT. 27 -- Citing conduct "dishonorable and against the welfare of the league," National Hockey League President John Ziegler today suspended Edmonton Oilers goaltender Grant Fuhr for a year for using drugs.
But Ziegler also left the door open for reinstatement by Feb. 18, 1991, should the all-star goalie meet certain conduct requirements. And the NHL president gave the Oilers a chance to challenge his decision.
"This has indeed been a most sad case," Ziegler said in a written statement. "Mr. Fuhr has been an all-star player for most of his career. He admits he has made a major mistake and is working hard to redeem himself."
In his statement, Ziegler said Fuhr, 28, used "cocaine, an illegal drug" for about six to seven years prior to August 1989.
"This use was sporadic, sometimes 'bingeful,' but never at an addictive level."
The time period of Fuhr's admitted substance abuse came while he was considered one of the hockey world's best goaltenders, and while he was helping the Oilers win four of their five Stanley Cups.
Ziegler also said he had proof Fuhr had not used any illegal drug "for over one year."
In Edmonton, Oilers General Manager Glen Sather didn't agree with Ziegler's decision.
"I think it was much too harsh," he said at a news conference before an exhibition game against the Jets.
"I have given consideration to the fact that he has been drug-free for 12 months," Ziegler said. "I have given weight to the fact that he has come forward and is facing this matter head on."
But Ziegler also said he had to consider the long period of Fuhr's substance abuse. "It went on in spite of a clear league policy that if you use illegal drugs you will be suspended," Ziegler said. "Mr. Fuhr's actions were intentional and were in defiance of this policy. He must suffer the consequences."