Former NHL Goaltender Speaks about Mental Health Struggles in the Northland

HERMANTOWN, Minn.–  Clint Malarchuk was given a second chance at life when his suicide attempt failed many years ago, and as the stigma around mental health melts away, the message he shared tonight goes far beyond the crease.

In March of 1989, Clint Malarchuk was a goalie for the Buffalo Sabres and took a hockey skate to the neck and jugular vein after a Saint Louis Blues player crashed the net.

This was the moment that changed his life forever.

In 2008, he attempted to take his life, but he survived and now lives with a bullet in his skull that reminds him of where he came from and where he hopes to go now with helping others.

“Having played in the NHL certainly gives you a bit of a platform and fortunately for me, I played and that does give me a bit of a platform but it’s the hurdles, the struggles, the demons that I’ve had to fight and over come, it gives me something to talk about,” Malarchuk said.

For former CSS men’s hockey coach, now turned Mental Illness Advocate Mark Wick, a similar experience lead him to speak out along with Clint.

The situations these men survived from leads them to their advocacy today but it is an every day fight that they hope to help others tackle as well especially in athletics.

“There’s a lot of successful people out there who have had to deal with this, but there’s also people who haven’t dealt with it because they didn’t think anybody would understand, and there’s a stigma and that it was a sign of weakness to go get help, and the consequences sometimes are fatal,” Wick said.

Malarchuk went on with some advice, “I just encourage people to know that they are not alone, and to know that its not a weakness to struggle, its a sickness, and its no different than any other disorder and you can get help.”

For one mom in attendance with her two sons tonight, this presentation allows her to encourage her children to have these difficult conversations if necessary and to help others too.

“There’s a stigma about mental health out there and especially for our youth they may be scared to talk about if they have anxiety or depression where having an event like this and then hearing these stories of hockey heroes or people they look up to, they realize its okay to talk about it, its okay to show your feelings,” Amy Pocrnich said.

Clint Malarchuk is a founder and board member for The Ranch, which are facilities that offer help to those who have sustained injuries in sports, or veterans who deal with issues after serving their country.

But for Clint now, every day is a gift.

Reporter: “what does life mean to you now”?

“Well number one, gratefulness, I’m glad I didn’t die, and I’m glad that I got well and I’m glad that I get to convey a message to help others,” Malarchuk said.

On August 16th, Clint, some current and former NHL players and members from the 1980 miracle team will be playing a golf scramble in Biwabick, Minnesota in memory of Mark Pavelich.

This will help raise money that will go towards UMD Athletics, Eveleth Youth Hockey and The Ranch.

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