The Sharks traded Devin Setoguchi to the Minnesota Wild nearly five years ago just days after signing the forward to an extension. That trade bagged San Jose Brent Burns and, at least in my view, has worked out very well for the Sharks.
Unfortunately things didn’t go so well for Setoguchi in Minnesota. He played 117 games and tallied just 31 points before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets. While in Winnipeg for the 2013-14 season, Setoguchi played 75 games and scored 27 points. The following season he played in 12 games for the Calgary Flames without a point before being released.
That April, Setoguchi checked himself into rehab for a month. He managed to quit drinking and says he’s been sober for more than a year now. That left him with little time to get into hockey shape before the 2015-16 season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs invited Setoguchi to training camp but the forward didn’t make the final roster. From there, he signed on with Davos in Switzerland for the 2015-16 campaign. That's when things started to turn around for Setoguchi. The article, from The Japan Times, tells his story quite well. I recommend you read the whole thing, but here are a couple excerpts.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said by phone from San Jose, California. “I thought it was good. I had entered the drug abuse/alcohol program with the NHL and I was going into rehab in April. So coming out of it, I had to lose a lot of weight and get in shape as quick as I could. It wasn’t an easy road for me, but I felt I got better as the season went on . . .”
During a wide-ranging phone interview, Setoguchi answered every question with polite, detailed responses, including ones about the decision he made to enter an upscale rehab facility in Malibu, California, as part of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program. His rehab program lasted one month.
His life was at the crossroads, he admitted. Alcohol was the problem.
“Well, it was obviously a big part of my life,” Setoguchi said. “I spent a lot of my nights drinking whiskey and a lot of beer, and I was overweight and out of shape and it bounced me right out of the NHL.
It was a (big) decision and my relationship with my wife wasn’t very well. We were going to get married that summer, and it was just a decision I made to try and change my life around, get my hockey career on straight and straighten out my personal life.
It’s great to hear that Setoguchi has gotten his life back on track — something that far outweighs the importance of his on-ice performance. I wish Setoguchi nothing but the best of luck in the future; he was always one of my favorite Sharks and I hope he’s able to get another gig in the NHL this season.