The Stockton Heat had a strong performance last season, capped off with an appearance in the Calder Cup playoffs. One player that didn’t factor into their playoff run was 2013 first round selection Emile Poirier. The Calgary Flames prospect had faded into the background a bit organizationally and outright disappeared following a Feb. 18 game against Bakersfield. The reason? A “personal leave” from the game of hockey, which Poirier explained when chatting with the media during Flames development camp.
“I had some issues regarding drinking off the ice,” said Poirier. “I called [Brad Treliving] for support. I needed help, and he’s been truly supportive through the process. It wasn’t easy for me at the time, and I think from the whole organization they’ve been truly supportive, my teammates have been there, and now I’m looking forwards. I think I’m fully healthy, I’m here for the summer and I don’t want to miss out on any opportunities anymore.”
During his time with the media, Poirier repeatedly thanked Treliving and the Flames organization and noted that he’s been working with former Flames forward Brian McGrattan every day in regards to his continued recovery. His decision to seek help was a long time coming.
“Just seeing my life, where it was going, I needed a change,” said Poirier. “I’ve been seeing signs for the last two years and finally I admitted to myself.”
It’s hard to not to suspect that the off-ice challenges may have factored into Poirier’s diminishing production at the AHL level. Here’s a glance at a few of his performance indicators during his three full pro seasons to date – they all cratered over the past two seasons.
Now focused on playing the game and competing for a spot, Poirier seems excited for the challenges to come at main camp.
“I’ve just got to play my game like I used to do,” said Poirier. “Now that I’m fully focused on hockey, I think I’m just going to play my game and everything’s going to go well. I think I’m a good hockey player, I can do my things and nothing’s in the way now. So I’ll just do my job and we’ll see what happens. If it’s the case that I’m here or not, at least that I’ll do the best that I can do and I think it’ll be alright.”