Devin Setoguchi has persevered to return to the NHL after substance abuse issues, but his feel-good comeback story has hit a slight road bump. The Los Angeles Kings have sent him to the Ontario Reign of the AHL after he cleared waivers.
Setoguchi has 4 goals and 8 assists in 45 games this season. The Kings brought him in on a PTO this past offseason, and he ended up making the team.
This development really saddens me, because this whole thing is such a great redemption story. Setoguchi entered rehab for alcohol abuse back in 2015, and had been looking to find a home in the NHL again.
The Toronto Maple Leafs offered him a PTO back in 2015, but he didn’t make the team. He then spent the season playing in the Swiss league NLA for HC Davos, where he tallied 24 points in 30 games.
His strong performance combined with his ties to assistant general manager Rob Blake from their time in San Jose secured him a PTO with the Kings.
A handful of years ago it looked like Setoguchi was on his way to becoming a star. He was drafted 8th overall in the 2005 NHL Draft, picked 3 spots ahead of Anze Kopitar.
In his first full season with the Sharks, Setoguchi scored 31 goals. He never hit that same peak again, registering a pair of 20+ goal seasons for the San Jose before being traded to the Minnesota Wild in a deal that sent Brent Burns to the Bay Area.
Setoguchi hasn’t scored more than 19 goals in a season since leaving San Jose. The drinking began to take more of a toll over time.
It’s a tragic vicious cycle. The alcohol probably affected his play, which made him more depressed, which lead to more drinking, and both forces just kind of fed into each other.
The speed and shooting ability will always be intriguing aspects of his game, meaning that if he keeps himself in both a good physical and mental state, opportunities will present themselves.
Yes it’s a minor setback, but in the grand scheme of things, the important thing is that it sounds like Setoguchi has gotten his life in order these past couple of years.