Goalie’s bloody struggles persist both off and on the ice
CLINT Malarchuk gives a harrowing look inside both his goalie crease and his own head in The Crazy Game: How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond. The former NHL goalie is known around the world for having survived arguably the most gruesome on-ice injury in the history of hockey, when his throat was slashed open in March 1989. St. Louis Blues forward Steve Tuttle was going to the net, but was upended by Malarchuk’s teammate, Uwe Krupp, and his feet went up in the air, hitting the goaltender in the carotid artery. As the blood splurted out through his fingers six feet in front of him, his first thought was “I’m going to die.” His second was “get off the ice” because he knew his mom was watching the game on TV. Several videos of the accident have been viewed more than five million times on YouTube. Luckily for the Sabres’ netminder, the team’s trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, had seen far worse as a combat engineer in Vietnam. (He once took a helicopter ride beside a decapitated body and its head.) “Just do as I say. We’re going to save you,” he told Malarchuk as he applied pressure to the wound. More than 300 stitches later, Malarchuk’s life was saved and he was back at practice in four days — and in his first game in 10. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the only time Malarchuk bled profusely from his head and probably should have died. The second time occurred on his Nevada farm in 2008, after he pushed the barrel of a gun under his chin and pulled the trigger during an argument with his wife. (The bullet is still lodged in his forehead.) Malarchuk is brutally honest with all aspects of his life, particularly his battles with depression, mental illness and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He also discovered in 2008 that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the throat slash. His off-ice issues led directly to a downturn in his play, and he played his last NHL game during the 1992-93 season. It’s not all gloom and doom, though. Malarchuk gives an inside look at the life of a professional hockey player — don’t fall asleep on an airplane unless you want to wake up wearing a turban of shaving cream — and he has a few cool stories, such as drinking some beers with Van Halen. Despite being on the same path as several other players with mental illness — such as Derek Boogaard, Wade Belak and Rick Rypien, all of whom died in the summer of 2011 — Malarchuk appears to have come out the other side. Hopefully the next chapter in his life won’t be written in a book. Geoff Kirbyson is a proud beer leaguer with the Sofa Kings. He does not wear a throat protector but is seriously considering it now.