SUN Hockey Pool

Myhres battles back from the brink

ROBIN BROWNLEE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:01 PM ET

CALGARY -- An interest in broadcasting landed Brantt Myhres an announcing gig at the Hockey Gladiators pay-per-view this off-season, the sideshow in which a bunch of has-been tough guys beat each other bloody for prize money.

It wasn't that long ago Myhres, an Edmonton boy who is as big and tough as they come, looked like he'd end up as one of those guys - circus act stuff for hammers - as a three-time loser under the NHL substance abuse program.

Yet, there was Myhres at the Pengrowth Saddledome last night, looking for Georges Laraque of the Edmonton Oilers and seeking a steady job with the Calgary Flames.

Clean and sober for two years, the 31-year-old Myhres is looking like the comeback player of the year in the NHL. With what he's had to tackle to get another shot, a year lost to the lockout is a walk in the park.

"There's been a lot of people who have supported me through this whole thing," said Myhres, who hit bottom when he ended up in a halfway house in California.

"Just sitting in the dressing room again, all the excitement ... now that I'm sober, I don't really consider it a last chance. I think that, no matter what happens, I can play the game a few more years.

"Before, I was definitely hanging on by a thread. There were no chances left, really. That was it."

Oilers fans might remember Myhres. He had a cup of coffee with the Oilers at training camp in the 1990s during the bad old days when the six-foot-three enforcer was living the life and bouncing from team to team.

BACK TO THE SHOW

Drafted by Tampa Bay in the 1992 Entry Draft out of Lethbridge of the WHL, Myhres has played 154 NHL games with the Lightning, Philadelphia, San Jose, Nashville, Washington and Boston.

Out of the league since the 2002-03 season, when he got into just one game with the Bruins, Myhres is trying to become the first player to make it back to The Show from the fourth and final stage of the substance abuse program - no more chances.

"I've known Brannt since San Jose (1998)," said Calgary coach and GM Darryl Sutter. "I know him apart from the game and I know what he's had to face and what he's done.

REALLY GOOD JOB

"He's done a really good job. To be reinstated is not the easiest thing. It doesn't matter who it is. The biggest challenge they face is, first of all, the admission and then the actual program.

"We've seen a lot of guys where the admission was never there and it's ruined their careers. I don't really look at it as a second chance. I look at it as a new lease. He's handled it really well. Good for him."

Off the booze, Myhres is a fighting trim 220 pounds with body fat of under 10 per cent these days after spending the last two summers working with Daryl Duke. That's a far cry from the 235 pounds he weighed during his sniff with the Oilers, when he was at 18.5 per cent body fat - the same as your average reporter, not as bad as Keith Tkachuk.

"My first year in Tampa Bay, Manon Rheaume beat me in the VO2. That wasn't a good start," laughs Myhres. "For me, working with Daryl in the gym, it was sort of old and sweaty and hot.

"That's the mentality I wanted to get back into again. Training with some young kids there, it was a neat feeling to be around the guys."

Myhres has a one-year contract with the Flames and a backer in Sutter, who knows how hard he's worked to keep his nose clean. Myhres swears he'll make the most of it.

"I'm just happy to be here," Myhres said. "I don't know what the future would have brought me. I know I wouldn't have been sitting here.

"I just want to make the guys on my team feel comfortable. They can just go out and play hockey and I'll take care of the other stuff."


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