Former NHL All-Star Goalie Clint Malarchuk Removes His Mask to Raise Awareness for Mental Health
Thursday, October 26, 2017
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Please join The Mental Health Association of Westchester on Thursday, October 26th for a riveting and unforgettable evening of conversation with former NHL all-star goalie, Clint Malarchuk, who will share his deeply personal story of survival.
Together with his wife Joanie, Clint will speak from the heart about his lifelong battle with mental health issues, the on-ice accident that nearly killed him, the subsequent spiral that led him to attempt suicide and the importance of family and a strong support network.
For years, Clint seemed to be living the dream as one of the National Hockey League’s masked marvels. The former goalie played parts of 10 seasons in the NHL, at times ranking among the game’s elite players. But behind the masks he wore across 338 NHL games was a man who kept decades of anxiety, obsessive behavior, depression and alcohol use under wraps, a man struggling mightily to stop pucks on the ice and his every wall from crumbling off it. And that was before a harrowing in-game accident, on a late-March night in 1989, that came within inches and minutes of ending his life. Clint's carotid artery was severed by an errant skate blade, an injury requiring 300 stitches. It continues to be regarded as the most gruesome injury in professional sports history.
Spurred by the macho culture predominant in professional sports, Clint returned to play just 10 days later, and once his playing career ended he went on to hold several coaching positions. But the wayward skate blade’s damage wasn’t limited to his neck. Post-traumatic stress disorder that wouldn’t be diagnosed for nearly 20 years haunted him and exacerbated his other mental health conditions. Clint spiraled into an abyss, his subsequent years of destructive behavior culminating in a suicide attempt – as his wife, Joanie, stood before him – on his Nevada ranch in 2009.
Now, long after the end of his playing career, he’s tossed his mask aside, literally and figuratively, with a clear vision and purpose. He published his autobiography – A Matter of Inches: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond – in November 2014. And with a bullet still lodged inches from his brain serving as a constant reminder of his good fortune, he’s making the greatest saves of his life, sharing his darkness so that others with mental health issues may see that there is, indeed, a light – and that all of us can play a pivotal role in their recovery.