Arlington, Virginia - Clint Malarchuk is crying. And he's not the only one. From Malarchuk's perspective, this is a good thing. It means his message about living with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has hit home with his audience. "It means somebody out there is relating to what you're telling them," Malarchuk said.
On this day at the Washington Capitals' practice facility, Malarchuk, a former NHL goaltender and goalie coach, is addressing players from the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, which uses hockey as a recreational and therapeutic tool for those wounded while serving in defense of their country. For the past 2 ½ years, Malarchuk has traveled around the United States and Canada working as a mental health advocate and sharing the story of how he emerged from living almost 20 years in a personal hell that nearly cost him his life.
Also a certified horse dentist and horse chiropractor who operates a small ranch in Gardnerville, Nevada, Malarchuk estimates he does about 30 speaking engagements a year. He'll talk at corporations, high schools and colleges about his experiences with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), depression, anxiety, alcoholism, attempted suicide and PTSD.
When he decided that 14 years in professional hockey were enough, Paul Gaustad had a simple plan - "My whole goal this year was to basically relax," he says. "Be a father. Relax. Do things like I haven't been able to do - like go skiing." That plan lasted all of a couple of months.
When stepson Phillip Lamancusa's hockey team found itself without a coach, Gaustad stepped forward. So, instead of battling the best players in the world, Gaustad is preparing teenagers for hockey games and life beyond high school. The former Portland Winterhawks and NHL star from Beaverton, who retired in September, is trying to learn more about the world of youth hockey that once provided the foundation for his career.
"I didn't want to have a ton of commitments. But the thing that pushed me was being involved in Phillip's hockey and having maybe the only chance to be able to coach him and hang out with him on the road and that sort of thing," Gaustad says. The team won about half of its games this season, finishing with a championship of a Presidents' Day tournament hosted by the Junior Winterhawks - a title won in overtime of the championship game.