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Malarchuk takes centre court at Lakeland for mental health

A career ending injury and his own life battles have propelled this former NHLer to a life of advocacy for mental health.

It was March 22nd, 1989 that goaltender Clint Malarchuk playing for the Buffalo Sabres had his neck sliced by the skates of an opposing player who crashed into the goal crease. The blade cut his carotid artery and partially severed his jugular vein. With blood spewing on the ice, Malarchuk somehow managed to clutch his throat and make it off the ice.

That incident would affect his game going forward and he eventually left the NHL. He went on to play in the International Hockey League and eventually coached, wrapping his career on staff with the Calgary Flames in 2014.

In 2008, he tried to take his life, somehow escaping the finality of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

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He faced mental health challenges including obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, alcoholism and substance abuse.

Fast forward to the publishing of his autobiography in November 2014 and several speaking engagements later including May 2015 at the Canadian Mental Health Association meeting in Ontario.

The inspiring story of comeback in the face of adversity is the fodder that brings Malarchuk to share his journey in Lloydminster next month. The Alberta native who has been dubbed the “Cowboy Goalie” because of his involvement in the Calgary rodeo is also now a horse dentist and chiropractor and has a small ranch in Nevada. He does numerous speaking engagements every year.

Project Sunrise and the Lakeland Rustlers Women’s Basketball team are teaming up to bring Malarchuk to the Border City. Event planner Tricia Hunter with BPC Directional says she has read his book twice and sees how his life transcends the events on the ice.

“So he woke up in the hospital with a bullet lodged in his head and realized that he was on earth to do great things and had a higher purpose in life beyond the road he was on. He started speaking all around North America. I have read his book a couple times and it’s a fantastic story. I know there’s been lots of great hockey stories, but there’s so much more to his story than that. His whole story doesn’t all happen on the ice. It’s just where it all started.”

The Lakeland Rustlers are presently seeking a national title after having that first shot taken away from them when the COVID pandemic cut last season. That story is currently being filmed by Two Fold Films for a documentary called Second Bounce. Their story of comeback resonates with Hunter as she says it was an exchange of ideas last Summer that brought all these storylines together.

“We got brainstorming and they [Two Fold Films] were telling me about their video and telling me about Second Bounce, and I said you know what I’ve always wanted to do is have an event that includes all mental health services. Let’s do something that encompasses all of our mental health services in town and create awareness and funds for all of them. And those girls [Lakeland Basketball team] should know what’s available for them if they need help.”

Hunter explained at this time, everything had shut down due to COVID and the season was cut short for the players. Many of them being international students were not able to travel to be with their families. School was closed and the sport they loved was also on hold with them being on the cusp of a possible national title.

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Hunter says that BPC Directional welcomes supporting mental health initiatives in the community and working along with Kim Capiral and Jessie Mann of Two Fold Films created an opportunity to synergize all these efforts.

All proceeds from the event will benefit five mental health facilities in Lloydminster:

  • Libbie Young Centre
  • Residents In Recovery
  • Men’s Shelter
  • Thorpe Recovery Centre
  • Interval Home Society.

Malarchuk along with Chris King, coach of the Lakeland Rustlers Women’s basketball team, captain Tori Dugan and a few teammates will take the stage at the Lakeland College Gymnasium Sunday April 3rd from 6 p.m.

Tickets inclusive of corporate tables can be purchased online at EventBrite.

For more details contact Tricia Hunter at 780-872-4828 and email: [email protected].

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