NEWMARKET, Ont. – Former Toronto Maple Leafs captain Rick Vaive broke his own rule about drinking and driving two years ago, on the day he was arrested and charged by police, court heard Friday.
Vaive, 52, took the stand for a second day after pleading not guilty to impaired driving and driving with over 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.
“What would you say is your limit for drinking and driving?” Crown attorney Jon Fuller asked him in court.
“I would say probably anything over six would be my limit,” Vaive replied. “My rule is three, actually.”
“Can you remember an occurrence when you broke that rule?”
“The date in question, July 14,” Vaive said.
Vaive, looking deeply tanned in a dark grey pinstripe suit and blue tie, said he took the wheel after having six beers at a golf game on July 14, 2009.
He was arrested that night in Vaughan, Ont., just north of Toronto. Police have said his blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.
Later in his testimony Friday, Vaive backpedalled, saying he meant three drinks over less than two hours was his rule.
The former NHL player maintained he wasn’t drunk and felt fine to drive from the golf course in Gravenhurst, Ont., to his home in Oakville, Ont., which is about a three-hour trip.
The game was part of a two-day trip with several other former hockey players, including Dennis Maruk and Bill Derlago. The group had played a round of golf the previous day and played poker until 4:30 a.m. before hitting the course for their 1 p.m. tee time, Vaive said.
Court heard Vaive has chronic joint pain as well as sleep apnea, which requires him to sleep with a ventilator. Vaive said he also takes anti-anxiety medication, but the dose is too low to affect his driving.
Earlier in the week, court saw a video of Vaive in a police station, wearing a golf shirt and urine-stained shorts.
In his testimony, Vaive said he suffers from a bladder condition that makes it difficult to control his urination and forces him to carry empty Gatorade bottles in his car.
“When I’ve got to go, I’ve got to go quick,” and it’s not always possible to reach a bathroom in time, he said Friday, squirming in his seat.
Vaive said he wet himself that night because the bottle was already full. Asked why he didn’t stop to change clothes, he replied: “I was going home and I wasn’t uncomfortable.”
Fuller argued Vaive “wasn’t thinking clearly” because of the alcohol he’d consumed, but the former hockey player denied the allegation.
Under questioning, Vaive said he didn’t know how many drinks it would take to get him drunk, “because I haven’t been drunk in some time.”
The last time he could remember was his 50th birthday party, about two months before his arrest, when he drank between 15 and 20 beers over roughly seven hours, he said.
Court also heard from Trevor Whiffen, Vaive’s agent, whom he called from the police station. Whiffen said his client didn’t appear drunk when they spoke.
“He appeared lucid and his speech was not slurred,” Whiffen said.
If convicted, Vaive could face for each charge a minimum fine of $1,000 and maximum of five years in prison for a first offence.
Vaive became the first Maple Leaf to score 50 goals in a season, recording 54 in 1981-82. He went on to surpass the 50-goal plateau the following two seasons.
The trial, which is by judge alone, has now been adjourned until February due to scheduling issues.