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

Cold, stormy winter forecast across much of Canada, The Weather Network predicts

It’s going to be a long, cold and messy winter across much… Continue reading

A lesson in excellence and success

Mary Kemmis, president of the Prairie Division of Black Press Media, and… Continue reading

Etihad launches more fuel-efficient Boeing 787 Dreamliner

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Abu Dhabi’s flagship carrier Etihad Airways announced… Continue reading

Ford Mustang SUV starts a blitz of new electric vehicles

DEARBORN, Mich. — Ford is unveiling its first all-electric SUV, marking the… Continue reading

Flood-hit Venice’s dwindling population faces mounting woes

VENICE, Italy — One of only four oar makers for Venice’s famed… Continue reading

Central Albertans help families during holidays with Christmas Wish Breakfast

It takes a community to help a community. And Sunday morning at… Continue reading

Your community calendar

Nov. 19 The Mountview Sunnybrook Community Association will hold its AGM at… Continue reading

Opinion: The buck stops with Red Deer city council

Red Deer city council has taken measures to distance itself from decisions… Continue reading

A lesson in excellence and success

Mary Kemmis, president of the Prairie Division of Black Press Media, and… Continue reading

Sundin on Leafs’ struggles: ‘You’re very exposed in a market like Toronto’

TORONTO — Mats Sundin knows what life’s like when things are going… Continue reading

Canada downs Dominican Republic in women’s basketball Olympic pre-qualifier

EDMONTON — Canada’s women’s basketball team put its depth on display Sunday… Continue reading

Literati glams up to anoint next winner of $100K Scotiabank Giller Prize

TORONTO — Canada’s literary cognoscenti is getting ready to walk the red… Continue reading

UK media: Prince Andrew’s sex claims rebuttal a PR disaster

LONDON — British media on Sunday slammed Prince Andrew’s effort to rebut… Continue reading

‘Ford v Ferrari’ speeds to No. 1; ‘Charlie’s Angels’ fizzles

NEW YORK — “Ford v Ferrari” put its competition in the rearview,… Continue reading

Most Read