Former NHL All-Star goalie Clint Malarchuk has stared down death more than a few times in his life.
Today, he’s using his platform to share his mental health journey and encourage others to seek help when they need it.
“I was depressed. I was anxious,” says Malarchuk, who spent time with the Quebec Nordiques, the Washington Capitals, and Buffalo Sabres. “We’ve come so far in our treatment and diagnoses, but those outdoor rinks as a kid were the only place I felt free.”
The Grande Prairie, Alberta native is famous for surviving one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of the NHL — during a game against the St. Louis Blues, a skate came up and caught his neck, severing his carotid artery.
“That was a lot of blood in a short amount of time, and I thought I was going to die,” says Malarchuk.
The incident led to a long case of post-traumatic stress, which came to a head years later when a similar incident happened to Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik.
“My depression became very severe,” Malarchuk told the audience at Bingemans on Wednesday night. “My OCD, I couldn’t leave the house.”
“The panic attacks and the nightmares were the worst,” he added. “I’d doze off and see that skate coming up.”
What followed was a period of addiction and abuse during which Malarchuk’s wife, Joanie, says her husband would regularly drink 30 beers in a day. It culminated in a suicide attempt that sent Malarchuk to San Diego, where he finally received a diagnosis and treatment.
“It made me think, and it made me re-evaluate where I was in my life. I got help,” Malarchuk told the crowd. “This had been 19 years of undiagnosed PTSD. I cried for three days.”
Nowadays, the former NHL goalie and his wife spend their time speaking about their experiences and promoting better mental health.
“If anybody’s struggling, there’s a lot of us out there – believe me,” Malarchuk told the crowd.
“I thought my purpose was to be an NHL hockey player. I learned what my purpose was. My purpose was to go through that. My purpose was to be here today [talking to you],” he added.
“My best therapy is right here [on this stage].”