One would not think that a children's toy could jeopardize a career but one only has to look at Darren Veitch to find such a player. Veitch, drafted 5th overall by the Washington Capitals, was in his own living room when he tripped on his child's toy and put his arm through a glass end table. The injury could have ended his season, and possibly his career, if he did not have microsurgery. Veitch only took two games off after the procedure. At the end of the season he was named one of The Hockey News Comeback Player of the Year.
Veitch's early career was one marked with injuries and a comparison with the defenseman drafted immediately after him. While the Capitals selected Veitch 5th, the Edmonton Oilers picked Paul Coffey with the sixth selection. Coffey was burning up the NHL while Veitch couldn't get a full-time roster spot until his fifth professional season. The comparison was, of course, unfair since teams draft players to fill certain needs or to take the best pick available. Washington drafted Veitch for a reason and could only guess how he would turn out. Another hindrance for him in Washington was the Capitals' depth on defense.
A trade to Detroit on March 10, 1986 boosted Veitch's career. There were some initial troubles with learning Red Wings coach Jacques Demers system. Once that was settled the statistics rose again and, more importantly, the Red Wings won more games.
His downfall in Detroit happened when the Edmonton Oilers eliminated the Red Wings in six games. Coach Demers laid the blame on six players, including Veitch, who had partied into the early morning of the game day. Veitch was denied a playoff bonus because of the incident. When he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 10, 1988, Red Wing general manager Jimmy Devellano insisted the curfew breaking was not a factor in the deal.
Veitch managed to play parts of two seasons in the NHL before winding up in the minor leagues.
Courtesy of the Hockey Hall of Fame