Connect with us

Detroit Red Wings

Vrana Talks About Substance Abuse Issues And His End With Red Wings

Ex-Detroit player talks openly about his addiction issues



Jakub Vrana, Detroit Red Wings
Jakub Vrana entered the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program while with the Red Wings in 2021.

When his day of reckoning came in both his life and in his career with the Detroit Red Wings, Jakub Vrana recollects most vividly the fear and trepidation he felt after making the decision to share his problem with Red Wings GM Steve Yzerman.

It was in October of 2022 when the stunning news came that star forward Vrana was taking a leave from the Red Wings to enter the NHL/NHLPA Player Assistance Program.

Dealing with substance abuse issues, it was Vrana who sought out Yzerman to share his problem with his boss.

“I actually went (to see) Steve Yzerman,” Vrana shared with in his native Czechia. “I completely walked up the stairs to his office. And I was completely at a loss as to how I was going to tell him.”

Vrana would spend six weeks in the program. He’d return to Detroit but after placing him on waivers, the Red Wings would assign Vrana to the Grand Rapids Griffins, their AHL farm club. He’d get a brief three-game recall to Detroit later in the 2021-22 season, prior to being traded to the St. Louis Blues.

Vrana remembers the turmoil of that season but mostly, focuses on the fact that he was able to ultimately get his personal life back in order.

Vrana Felt Fearful Telling Red Wings Of His Problem

Even though now he knows it was what he needed to do, Vrana acknowledges that at the time, admitting his problem was overwhelming to his psyche.

“You (are) afraid to take this step,” Vrana recalled. “And then it might be too late.

“Of course there was a lot of fear on my part. What would happen if I came back?”

What did happen was that his end came as a Red Wings player.

“Alas, hockey is a business and maybe some people just look at it a bit (like that), even in the NHL,” Vrana said. “They just don’t say it to your face and it was probably the same with me.”

Blues Letting Vrana Go

Last season, the Blues would also ship Vrana to the AHL. He would finish the season with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds. He’ll become an UFA on July 1.

Regardless of the status of his hockey career, Vrana simply feels better off having his life back on track.

“I had to start solving it,” Vrana said. “I’m stronger now.”

His message to others facing similar addictions is that they don’t fear taking that step and reaching out for help.

“When you think you have everything under control, you don’t,”  he explains. “However, seemingly unsolvable problems can be successfully solved.”