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Former NHL Goalie Clint Malarchuk Battled Mental Illness, Life-Threatening Injury

Former NHL Goalie Clint Malarchuk Battled Mental Illness, Life-Threatening Injury

Former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk shares his extraordinary and heart-wrenching life story in his new memoir, The Crazy Game: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond, in his relentless effort to help end the stigma of mental illness and to help others who may suffer as well. The Edmonton Sun sat down with Clint recently to talk about the book and his commitment to mental health:

Tens of thousands of people watched in horror when Clint Malarchuk’s throat was sliced open March 22, 1989 in a National Hockey League game in Buffalo.

Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues was in front of Malarchuk and fell, causing his skate accidentally cut the Buffalo Sabres goalie’s carotid artery. Blood sprayed the ice, creating a five-foot pool. Malarchuk was rushed to hospital where surgery required 300-plus stitches to save his life.

But there was another medical condition stirring inside Malarchuk — something even more deadly than his well-documented hockey injury.

In his newly released book, The Crazy Game: How I Survived The Crease and Beyond, Malarchuk joins forces with Dan Robson of Sportsnet Magazine to tell his compelling story of living with mental illness and OCD.

The 256-page HarperCollins book isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s raw in places — and can be tough to read.

Take the prologue, for example. Malarchuk is sitting in his barn on his ranch in Nevada, struggling with his depression and OCD. He blames Joanie, his fourth wife, for making him so crazy.

“Is this what you want?” he asks before jamming a gun against his chin.

We don’t find out for another 185 pages a bullet ripped through Malarchuk’s chin and entered his brain. But he’s a tough man: another surgery saved his life.

He says he must be here for a reason.

One evening last week, Malarchuk attended a book signing at Audrey’s Books as part of a promotional tour.

“I have a chemical imbalance in my brain. I don’t produce enough serotonin,” Malarchuk told a group of 50 in the store’s basement. “So let’s say I had diabetes and didn’t produce enough insulin.

“They’re both illnesses. But there’s stigma to mental illness because it effects your emotions.

“Mental illness isn’t a weakness. It’s an illness.”

Malarchuk was born in Grande Prairie and grew up in the west Edmonton community of Elmwood. He writes about living with an alcoholic father who smashed all the windows of the house one night to get in.

“I was safe when I played hockey as a kid on outdoor rinks. But as soon as I left and walked home, that’s when the anxiety started to build,” he says.

Malarchuk played junior hockey for the Portland Winterhawks and was drafted by the Quebec Nordiques.

Malarchuk can control his illness through proper medication. He says he still gets depressed and it’s a constant battle.

By Cam Tait/Edmonton Sun/November, 2014