Support helped Malarchuk fight his demons

It may be the most horrific injury of all time in the National Hockey League. On March 19, 1989, Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues and Uwe Krupp of the Buffalo Sabres became entangled while chasing the puck and crashed into Buffalo netminder Clint Malarchuk. Tuttle’s skate blade hit Malarchuk on the right side of his neck, severing his carotid artery.

It may be the most horrific injury of all time in the National Hockey League.

On March 19, 1989, Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues and Uwe Krupp of the Buffalo Sabres became entangled while chasing the puck and crashed into Buffalo netminder Clint Malarchuk. Tuttle’s skate blade hit Malarchuk on the right side of his neck, severing his carotid artery.

Blood gushed from Malarchuk’s neck and his life was in peril.

Spectators became physically ill and reportedly 11 fans fainted, two suffered heart attacks and three players vomited on the ice.

Malarchuk thought he was going to die.

“I knew my mother was watching so I skated off the ice — I knew that I was going to die and didn’t want her watching that,” he told the 12th annual RDC Kings and Queens Scholarship Breakfast at Westerner Park on Tuesday morning.

But thanks to the quick thinking of Buffalo trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former Army medic who served in Vietnam, Malarchuk survived. Pizzutelli pinched off the blood vessel and didn’t let go until doctors arrived.

Malarchuk said the team doctor then applied pressure by kneeling on his collarbone, in order to slow his breathing and slow the blood flow.

In all, Malarchuk lost 1.5 litres of blood and needed more than 300 stitches to close the wound.

Eleven days later, he was back on the ice in Buffalo.

“It was adrenalin that got me through the remainder of the season, then it hit me during the summer,” he said. “I started to spiral downwards.”

It was the beginning of the end of his career.

He had suffered with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) since he was a youngster. Coupled with the trauma of the injury, it led to depression and anxiety. Six to eight months after the accident, he was having terrible nightmares and couldn’t sleep.

“I didn’t want to leave home … I was hiding it,” he said.

Malarchuk’s NHL career came to an end following the 1991-92 season. He played parts of five more seasons in the IHL before calling it quits.

He got into coaching in 1998 in Las Vegas with the Thunder and was the head man with the Idaho Stealheads in 1999-2000.

He worked as the goaltending coach for the Florida Panthers in 2002-03 and the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2006-07, was a goaltender consultant with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010-11 and the goaltending coach with the Calgary Flames from 2011-14.

But he kept fighting his demons.

On Feb. 10, 2008, the trauma of his injury came flooding back when Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik suffered a similar injury when teammate Olli Jokinen’s skate cut his neck and his carotid artery.

“It all came back and I fell off the horse … I was a full-blown alcoholic and became a recluse.”

Then on Oct. 7, 2008, he tried to take his own life, shooting himself with a .22 calibre rifle. The bullet caused damage to his jaw and lodged in his forehead, where it remains.

He was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and spent six months in a rehab centre in San Francisco.

“I realized I was sick … it was a mental illness, I wasn’t weak,” he said. “I accepted that and once I got out of rehab, I worked hard on staying with the program. I was in touch with my emotions. I work out every day as I believe good physical health helps your mental health.”

And he wrote the book The Crazy Game, a task that proved harder than he imagined. During the writing, he had a relapse.

He thanks the Flames for helping him and says he had no idea how he could impact people by talking about mental illness.

“I have a purpose to serve, to help. I’m doing great today and proud of my book.”

He also says that mental health is a sickness that no one should be ashamed of.

“You keep fighting,” he said.

l The RDC athletic leadership fund has raised over $2 million. … The Corporate Innovation Award was presented to WorleyParsonsCord, which has supported the RDC fund since 2009. … The Calgary Flames Foundation is also a big supporter of the RDC fund and announced they it donate three scholarships each year to athletics. … Bell Canada is also a major sponsor and has made a major push to help with mental health.

Just Posted

Downtown Red Deer was packed with people who lined the streets to watch the Westerner Days parade on Wednesday. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Westerner Days parade cancelled, full details on modified event coming June 28

The 2021 edition of Westerner Days will look much different than any… Continue reading

City council wants to hear from the public at a May 25 hearing about whether the temporary homeless shelter should be allowed to remain in the downtown for another year. (Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer staff to recommend another extension to allow operations at current temporary shelter site

Following some more research city administration has received no other new locations… Continue reading

A scene from the short Western ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws,’ written and directed by Jason Steele, with support from Telus Storyhive. (Contributed image)
Red Deerians make ‘Cheaters, Robbers and Outlaws’ short Western film

Writer and director Jason Steele received a $20,000 Storyhive grant from Telus

Residents in several neighbourhoods reported little to no water pressure Tuesday night. (File photo by Advocate staff)
City hall to reopen for payments and customer service

Red Deer City Hall will reopen on June 21 for utility and… Continue reading

Char Rausch was selected as this year’s recipient of the Bob Stollings Award, which goes to an employee who has displayed outstanding civic performance in alignment with The City’s Cornerstone Values – Respect, Integrity, Service and Excellence. (Photo courtesy City of Red Deer)
Char Rausch wins City of Red Deer Bob Stollings Award

The City of Red Deer is honouring employees differently this year. With… Continue reading

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price stops Vegas Golden Knights' William Karlsson as he is covered by Canadiens' Joel Edmundson during first period of Game 3 of the NHL Stanley Cup semifinal Friday, June 18, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Andreson’s timely scoring, Price’s goaltending give Habs 2-1 series lead over Vegas

Canadiens 3 Golden Knights 2 (OT) (Montreal leads series 2-1) MONTREAL —… Continue reading

Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) is defended by Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) as he looks for an opening during the first half of Game 6 of an NBA basketball Eastern Conference semifinal series Friday, June 18, 2021, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Curry, Harris help 76ers stay alive, hold off Hawks 104-99

76ers 104 Hawks 99 (Series tied 3-3) ATLANTA — Seth Curry hit… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s promise of a two-dose fall is… Continue reading

Marco Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, speaks during a press conference in Ottawa, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Mendicino has announced a new policy to help settle 500 refugees and their families in a news conference today. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada to welcome 45,000 refugees this year: Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino announced plans to expedite applications and increase the… Continue reading

Louis Oosthuizen, of South Africa, plays his shot from the third tee during the second round of the U.S. Open Golf Championship, Friday, June 18, 2021, at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Bland leads at Torrey and shows the US Open is truly open

SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Open prides itself on being the most… Continue reading

The Prime Minister's car waits outside the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg Tuesday, May 19, 2009. The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is showing no sign he'll release unredacted documents about the firing of two scientists at Canada's highest security laboratory — despite the prospect of being publicly shamed in the House of Commons for his refusal to turn them over. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
PHAC head maintains he’s bound by law not to release docs on fired scientists

OTTAWA — The head of the Public Health Agency of Canada is… Continue reading

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant in Canada

OTTAWA — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly… Continue reading

Various vaping nicotine e-liquids or "juice" are shown in a lab at Portland State University in in Portland, Ore., Tuesday, April 16, 2019. The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products in a bid to reduce their appeal to youth. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Craig Mitchelldyer
Health Canada proposes ban on most vaping flavours it says appeal to youth

The federal government says it wants to ban most flavoured vaping products… Continue reading

Most Read