Former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk delivers message of hope, recovery to lakecity audience

Clint Malarchuk (from right), stands alongside Denisiqi Services Society program manager Crystal Wells, Denisiqi Services Society community relations manager Neil Burrows and Bill McGinnis of the Cariboo Friendship Society Wednesday morning prior to Malarchuk’s presentation on mental health advocacy at the Gibraltar Room. (Greg Sabatino photos)

Growing up a cowboy, former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk was taught to be tough.

Malarchuk was in Williams Lake Wednesday giving a pair of presentations at the Gibraltar Room as an advocate for mental health on his life in, and after, the NHL while struggling with anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and suicide.

Born and raised in Alberta and now living in Nevada, Malarchuk, 58, told the Tribune he’s passionate about the issues people suffer with and wants to share his story with the hope of helping those affected recover.

The presentations — one for adults and another for youth — were put on by Denisiqi Services Society and partners Punky Lake Wilderness Camp Society, the Cariboo Friendship Centre and the Tshilqot’in National Government.

“My story helps people feel they’re not alone and can get help,” Malarchuk said, noting he speaks in roughly 50 different communities a year in Canada and the U.S.

Malarchuk played 12 seasons in the NHL with the Quebec Nordiques, the Washington Capitals and the Buffalo Sabres. After retiring he went on to coach with four NHL teams.

In 1989, Malarchuk was involved in one of the most infamous, gruesome sports injuries in history while playing with the Sabres when a skate blade from an opposing St. Louis Blues player slashed his carotid artery on his neck.

READ MORE: Former NHL goaltender Clint Malarchuk to share inspiring story in lakecity

Already dealing with mental health issues, however, translating his obsessive compulsive disorder into work ethic on the ice, Malarchuk began to spiral downward.

Malarchuk said had the skate blade cut one quarter of an inch deeper, he would have died instantly.

“I was back to play in the NHL in just 10 days,” he said, noting while the support and admiration from the Buffalo fans helped him through his return to the ice, he never dealt with underlying issues regarding the incident.

Malarchuk, still suffering years later following his career, attempted to take his own life in October of 2008 where he suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound that would, ultimately, require surgery to repair his jaw, tongue, mouth and palate.

“The OCD had become so enormous,” he said. “I was self medicating with alcohol, and today I still have a bullet lodged in my skull but, after I survived that, I knew I had a purpose.”

Also having a passion for horses and animals, Malarchuk competed during his NHL career in bareback riding and bull riding in the Calgary and Alberta area.

Malarchuk said he’s never attended a Williams Lake Stampede, however, has heard it’s ‘the best thing going.’

“I never got the pleasure of riding here,” he said. “But all my friends who had said it’s one of the best rodeos around.”

Following his NHL career Malarchuk went to school to become a horse dentist and chiropractor.

On Tuesday he spent the day at Tl’esqox (Toosey) where he worked with children in the community’s youth horse program.

“What they are doing with those kids out there … right on,” he said.

Just this past week, other former NHL players Jordin Tootoo and Theoren Fleury were in Williams Lake speaking about their own personal struggles.

Malarchuk said it’s great to see so many high-profile athletes using that platform to spread a positive message.

“Anyone that’s high profile, like Jordin, the NHL gives us a platform to be heard,” he said. “More and more celebrities and people are starting to speak out and it makes it easier for others to get help.”

In 2014, Malarchuk wrote an autobiography titled The Crazy Game where he documented his own life.

“I put my e-mail address in the back and, five years later, I still get several e-mails every day from people struggling with mental health issues,” he said.

“I say the two most important things in life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why you were born.”

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

CACWL celebrating 50 years serving the community with the Romeros

The Community Arts Council of Williams Lake will be organizing a concert and workshop on Nov. 30

Higher-volume woodlot licence allocated to First Nations in new Quesnel timber sharing agreement

The new apportionment gives area First Nations more say and paves the way for a new community forest

Cataline Christmas Craft Fair raising money for playground equipment

This year with craft fair season well underway, the lakecity is invited to support students

Charitable donations help Cariboo Memorial Hospital

Karl and Reta Seibert make generous annual donation

Falcons junior, Grade 8 girls volleyball teams see success on court at district championships

Hurley said right from the start of the season commitment from players at the school was apparent

VIDEO: Canadian allergists’ group wants Benadryl behind the counter due to side effects

Some doctors say the medication is over-used because of its easy availability

Yelling at your dog might hurt its long-term mental health: study

Researchers find dogs trained using negative reinforcement are more ‘pessimistic’

Vancouver Island soap company releases Lucky Lager beer soap

Beer-infused olive oil soap comes out just in time for holiday shopping

Jagmeet Singh says he’ll vote against throne speech if NDP requests not met

Singh is to meet with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Thursday

Community uses loophole to paint 16 rainbow crosswalks after B.C. council says no

So far 11 rainbows are painted and five planned, all since council denied the first proposal in September

Workers’ camp at LNG facility in Kitimat takes shape

Extensive worker camp now being assembled

Former B.C. youth pastor guilty on one of five sexual assault allegations

Judge cites reasonable doubt in finding Cloverdale couple not guilty of majority of charges

238 and counting: Vancouver gelato shop sets Guinness World record for most flavours

Vince Misceo has come up with 588 different flavours over the decades

Killer who fled to Taiwan day after shooting B.C. man over $80 sentenced 13 years later

The sentence comes 13 years after Shaoxin Zhang, 19, was killed in a Burnaby parking lot

Most Read