Clint Malarchuk Survives Gruesome Hockey Injury and Struggles Beyond

Clint Malarchuk Survives Gruesome Hockey Injury and Struggles Beyond

Clint Malarchuk may have survived a gruesome hockey injury, but he’s been through a little bit of hell in his life since. The former NHL player and then coach even wrote a book about it: “The Crazy Game: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond.”

It happened on March 22, 1989 during the Buffalo Sabers game against the St. Louis Blues. Steve Tuttle rushed at Malarchuk in the goal, and after the collision blood began to spray rhythmically from the then 27-year-old goalkeeper’s neck. He suspected he was dying.

But he was extremely lucky. The accident happened at the end of the ice near the Buffalo locker room. If he were to travel across the rink, he would bleed to death. But most importantly, the team doctor was a Vietnam veteran who had seen similar serious injuries on the battlefield. He remained completely calm and saved Malarchuk’s life in front of a stadium full of spectators and on live television.

The player with Ukrainian roots lost 1.5 liters of blood, doctors needed a total of 300 stitches to close the 15 cm wound.

But the unbelievable happened, in just ten days the hockey player was back on the ice. He was also lucky in the accident, Tuttle’s skate cut through his neck and stopped a millimeter from the carotid artery that supplies blood to the brain. Although he lost a lot of blood, he survived thanks to prompt medical attention.

“I was raised a cowboy. If you fall off your horse, you get right back on before your fear gets the better of you. Buffalo fans welcomed me as an absolute hero,” he wrote of the situation at the time.

He was and wasn’t okay

Malarchuk’s quick return to hockey wasn’t just driven by his cowboy mentality, it was also a business decision. His contract was coming to an end and he needed to show that he was still useful to the team. He performed really well the rest of the season and the Sabers eventually extended his contract.

But still, everything did not go smoothly. The problems came inconspicuously, creeping in… The next season, Malarchuk began to have serious problems. There were intense nightmares and flashbacks, so he didn’t sleep at all. Panic attacks came, it was hell, but he kept it to himself and didn’t tell anyone at the time.

He was at a Super Bowl party with his team that year. He had a few beers but left early because he had a game the next day. When he got home, he took painkillers for his broken thumb and to get a good night’s sleep. But he took too many.

He overdosed

He woke up in the hospital where doctors told him his heart had stopped. They wanted to know if he wanted to commit suicide. He told them no, but told them all about how it all came about. He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Fortunately, it wasn’t PTSD yet. Not yet…

Thanks to medication and excellent medical care, he became mentally stable and went on to a successful playing and then coaching career in the NHL.

Then a suicide attempt

But fate did not want to spare him problems. In February 2008, Slovakian player Richard Zedník of the Florida Panthers suffered an injury very similar to his. Fortunately, he also survived, but the press started calling Malarchuk and he was experiencing hell again. It was all too much. He attempted suicide in October. He survived, but the bullet is still in his head. And more than 20 years after the accident, he was diagnosed with the aforementioned post-traumatic stress disorder.

Adam Johnson’s death had taken him away again. Fortunately, he already knows how to deal with everything. But he recognizes how difficult it can be for some fans, teammates and those close to Johnson. He knows that trauma can live on in their souls, so he warns them not to hesitate to ask for help.

Arrangements after Johnson’s death

Adam Johnson played in the NHL for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. Last Saturday he had his last game for the British team Nottingham Panthers. He died aged just 29 when the blade of another player’s skate hit him in the neck and severed an artery.

– The English Ice Hockey Association has announced that it will immediately strongly recommend neck protection until the end of 2023, with it being mandatory for all players from 1 January 2024.

– Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said that while he can’t issue an order at the NHL level, he will encourage his players to use neck guards.

– American Hockey League and East Coast Hockey League players affiliated with the Penguins will now be required to wear pads.

– The entire Western Hockey League will make neck protectors mandatory for all players during training and games.

– Some hockey players have expressed doubts about how effective neck protectors really are. Vince Dunn of the Seattle Krakens said that even as junior players, neck guards were often adjusted or even removed because they limited comfort and mobility. The special wrist guards and socks he wears are cut-resistant, but the protection is said to not be 100%.

– The Czech Hockey Association was also contacted by the report. “In youth competitions, it has long been a rule that players under the age of 20 must wear a neck protector in Czech competitions. However, the sports department discussed the matter in detail in its meeting on Wednesday and plans to take further action. As for the senior category, we want to open a discussion on this topic with the clubs and competition managers in the near future,” said Jan Černý, general secretary of Czech Hockey.

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