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Jarret Stoll’s Career Hangs in the Balance

Jarret Stoll’s celebration after the 2013-14 season, however excessive it may have been, was understandable. His festive behavior following the 2014-15 campaign was not, and it could prove costly.

After winning the Stanley Cup for the second time in three years, Stoll did not participate in the postseason in 2015 as his Los Angeles Kings failed to qualify for the playoffs. Six days after playing in his final game of the campaign, he was arrested in Las Vegas on April 17 on suspicion of possession of cocaine and Ecstasy.

The incident was another black eye for the Kings, who lost the services of Slava Voynov in October after the defenseman was arrested and charged with spousal abuse. Voynov is scheduled to go to trial next month.

Stoll also will be going to court as he was charged by the Clark County District Attorney’s Office with one felony count of possession of a controlled substance on Monday. His first appearance will be on July 1, the same day he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The veteran center, who will celebrate his 33rd birthday on Wednesday, may not have to worry about where he’ll play next season. If convicted, Stoll could receive a maximum of four years in prison.

A lesser sentence of probation due to it being his first offense is more likely. But regardless of the verdict, Stoll’s reputation forever will be tarnished.

According to police, Stoll attempted to enter the pool area at the MGM Grand and was patted down by a security guard, who found the drugs in his pocket. Police also said the native of Saskatchewan admitted the 3.3 grams of white powder he possessed was cocaine.

The incident has put Dean Lombardi in a difficult position. It would be easy to just turn his back on Stoll once he hits the free-agent market, but such an action likely would make many look at the Los Angeles general manager in a different light.

Lombardi met with Stoll shortly after the arrest. He did not divulge what was said during the get-together but admitted it was a very difficult one.

22 October 2011: Los Angeles Kings 28 Jarrett Stoll during a national hockey league regular season game between the visiting Dallas Stars and the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA.

“Probably one of the most gut-wrenching meetings I’ve had in my entire career,” Lombardi told reporters. “And I’ve had meetings with lots of players.”

There was a decent chance Lombardi would not have re-signed Stoll anyway. His offensive production has tailed off since his 20-goal performance in 2010-11, as he has netted a total of 27 tallies over the last four seasons.

Stoll did make contributions in 2014-15, as two of his six goals were game-winners. He also was solid in the faceoff circles, winning 51 percent of his 569 draws.

A second-round pick of Edmonton in the 2002 draft, Stoll has collected 140 goals and 239 assists in 792 career games with the Oilers and Kings. He has added 10 tallies and 26 points in 93 playoff contests – all but 24 of them with Los Angeles.

Predicting the outcome of Stoll’s legal situation, as well as his future in the NHL, is an impossible task. But considering many professional athletes have been given second – and sometimes more – chances after committing crimes, Stoll certainly should be afforded the same courtesy.

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