Dan Maloney squared off in countless hockey battles and gained a reputation as a tough guy and a team leader.
But the former National Hockey League star and Toronto Maple Leafs head coach has waged a lonelier struggle with a much tougher opponent -- alcoholism -- an addiction that landed him in court yesterday.
Maloney, 56, who played his junior hockey with the London Knights and now works as a real estate agent in Barrie, told of his efforts to set his life straight when he pleaded guilty to three charges -- resisting arrest, mischief and breaching his release conditions.
Alcohol was the catalyst to all three crimes.
Ontario Court Justice Gregory Pockele gave him a conditional discharge. He will not have a criminal record providing he abstains from alcohol for the next two years.
The judge said he was amazed Maloney had no record despite his longtime heavy alcohol dependence.
Maloney's only other brush with the law came during his glory days as a hockey player with Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, Detroit and Toronto.
In 1976, when he was a Red Wing, he was the first hockey player charged with assault causing bodily harm after a hockey fight with Leaf defenceman Brian Glennie. He was acquitted by a jury.
Maloney has already found out how much tougher the fight with alcohol can be.
Maloney stood at the defence table with his lawyer, Philip Norton, and told Pockele he tried to handle his alcohol problems on his own after he was charged with resisting arrest in London in March 2006.
Assistant Crown attorney Peter Kierluk said Maloney was arrested at his son's Old South home. He was drunk and yelling at his girlfriend after she refused to go to a bar. His son called police.
When officers tried to arrest Maloney, he held his arms tightly to his chest. He was pepper-sprayed before he was grounded and hit.
Maloney was charged and released on a condition to abstain from alcohol.
He tried. Last summer, he attended a Toronto addiction clinic that specializes in helping professional athletes.
But Maloney said he "couldn't work" with a doctor who was "full of accusations and innuendo."
He tried to stop drinking with the help of a 12-step program. But in December, after closing a large business deal in Barrie, he had "a slip" during a celebratory lunch.
He ended up entering the home of an ex-girlfriend and fellow realtor, where he wasn't welcome. She wasn't there, but her son's girlfriend found him and he left.
The ex-girlfriend was contacted and she called police.
Maloney's pickup truck was found later in a bar's parking lot. He wasn't there -- he had been taken to a hospital after he fell and split open his head.
Kierluk said "his degree of intoxication contributed" to the injury. He added the ex-girlfriend "fears for her safety."
Maloney was arrested at the hospital.
"I decided to put myself in Homewood," Maloney said and was admitted to the Guelph rehab facility.
He sees a doctor and keeps contact with Homewood.
Norton told Pockele his client has been separated from his wife since 1993 and has three children. His alcohol consumption increased following the deaths of two brothers in 2004 and 2005.