Former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk was one tough hombre in his playing days. What nobody knew, not even Malarchuk himself, is that his toughness was constantly being tested by more than life in the NHL.
Growing up in Grand Prairie, Alberta Canada, Clint had struggles that he couldn’t identify. He was dealing with depression, anxiety, and OCD. However, in the 1970s and 1980s, there was less of an understanding, not to mention an acceptance, of mental health disease. That applies even more so to hockey goalies…especially if that hockey goalie is also a rugged cowboy. It was treated with a, “rub some dirt on it and get back in there” bravado.
Clint dealt with these undiagnosed issues throughout his childhood and career. Things though, took a horrific turn for the worst in March of 1989 when a gruesome, near death accident on the ice, in front of a packed arena, triggered a yet-to-be discovered diagnosis of PTSD. It was a cocktail of illnesses that would haunt him throughout the rest of his career and several years after.
With the love and support of his wife, Joanie, to whom he refers as his “Saint”, along with divine intervention, Malarchuk survived years of mental anguish, near tragedy, and (thankfully) a failed suicide attempt. He managed to come out the other side and has parlayed his experiences into a vehicle to help others, a public speaking career, and as an author (among other things).
I had the chance to talk to Clint over the phone about his tumultuous childhood, life in the NHL, his life-long battle against mental health disease, and his book; A Game of Inches: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond.
After his playing career Malarchuk settled on a ranch near Las Vegas, Nevada (later Gardnerville, Nevada) where he and his wife at the time raised three kids. In mid 2000, he became certified as a veterinary technician and runs a practice as a horse dentist from his ranch.
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