Photo Credit: Bruce Fedyck / USA TODAY Sports

Emile Poirier opens up about his time away from hockey

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.

Season P/GP SH% S/GP
2014-15 0.764 17.3 2.0
2015-16 0.483 8.6 2.3
2016-17 0.395 8.0 1.7

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.”

  • Könniek

    Wow, that is rough man. I hope he does well, and love that he wants to straighten out his life. I wonder if Ferland was by any chance involved with helping Poirier through this

  • Ole YELLEr

    Good luck Emile, hopefully sobriety helps him get his career back on track. Is McGrattan still playing hockey somewhere? If not maybe the Flames should hire him in some capacity (pr?), he could continue to help Ferland and Poirier plus I think many Flames fans still have a soft spot for McGrattan. Plus you never know when Torts will lose his mind again 😉

  • MetalGearCody

    Takes alot to not only admit you have a problem but to do the right things to get help and to get back on the right track. Good for you Emile, i wish nothing but the best for you. Also kudos to Big Ern and Brad Treliving for being there for the kid and doing everything necessary for him.

  • X Man

    Not the kind of article a person wants to read after having a beer for breakfast… But good luck Emile!… I struggle enough at my crap job, and can’t imagine trying to play professional sports while having a destructive affinity for The Sauce… Which also makes me wonder how much longer Johnny and Monny can keep going after hours at the bars around here….

      • X Man

        I hope you’re right, I’m just repeating what I’ve heard from a couple of different, reliable sources… As far as diet is concerned, Johnny has said himself that he is a very picky, unhealthy eater… He eats like a five year old, cheese burgers, fries, ect… He was even sat for a game along with Monahan and Bouma for partying too much… They seem to be doing ok for now, despite these bad habits… Some people can manage these things better than others, but they have a way of catching up with everybody eventually… I’m just hoping they don’t go as far as Emile and need half a year off for rehab… I’m speaking from compassion here, and wish all these guys the best, just hoping they don’t get caught up in this crap too much…

        • Rexx

          It’s good to see Emile dealing with this as a professional should. It takes a lot for an athlete to come out about their demons, especially this early in their careers. Living in Edmonton, but being in an industry that works with professional athletes, this isn’t the first time I’m hearing about Johnny and “the sauce”. It’s unfortunate and do not discredit/look at the player any different on ice, but when stories start making their way through the media… that’s when trouble hits.

          IE: Taylor Hall in Edmonton. Lots of good ones out there….

          Back on topic, I’m excited for the Emile’s big comeback 🙂

  • Shameless Plugger

    Oiler fan here. My apologies for madjam. He’s a tool on Oilersnation also.

    Best of luck battling your demons Emile. It can be done, just ask Kassian.

  • smatic10

    Happy for the guy, always nice to hear stories like this. It would be a bonus if he can get back to becoming an B+/A prospect for us. Always room for pesky players that can skate like lightning. Klimchuk had a solid year of progression, Shinkaruk has shown he can be impactful (just has to avoid injuries and become more consistent), and Lazar had 3pts/4 games with us and showed that he has more to give. That 2013 draft class is starting to come around for us.

  • Lucky 13

    I think all of us can relate in one way or another- having a family or friend that has addressed the issue of alcoholism.

    McGrattan has helped others in this respect, as a player/ professional who can help others. He helped Tootoo and is partnered up with the NHL to provide mentoring for others facing the same battles.

    I read somewhere that McGrattan is planning on finishing his university degree in addiction counselling.

    You gotta love Big Ern! ❤️

  • Just.Visiting

    Thanks for writing this. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we are dealing with people (not just assets) when we analyze and post on here.

    I was very impressed with Emile’s approach, and hope that he can continue on his journey and see the rewards on the ice too.