Vancouver Sun

Masterton nod humbles tireless volunteer Motte

Hard-working Canucks winger serves as advocate for mental health off the ice


Learning that he was the Vancouver chapter of the Profession­al Hockey Writers' Associatio­n's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy was “humbling,” said Canucks winger Tyler Motte.

Motte's tireless work on the ice is matched by his efforts off the ice. Over the past 18 months, he's emerged as a strong voice for mental health, sharing his own story of dealing with depression and anxiety.

“I'm still learning a lot about myself and my own issues, but I think I've just found that it's OK to not be OK. It's OK to feel the way you're feeling, and you're not alone, and I think that has only become more clear to me,” the 26-year-old said last week.

“And that's something that I stress when I talk to others. It sounds a bit cliché, it sounds like a motto or a motto for mental health advocates and organizati­ons, but the reality of it is that it's an important thing to know.

“Being in lockdown, spending a lot more time in isolation at home and on the road and things like that, gives you almost too much time to reflect on your own mental health and things, and that's why I think I've gotten a lot personally from trying to be there to help others in situations. ... I find that when I do have conversati­ons with communitie­s, with individual­s and in groups, that I think I learn just as much as about myself as I do just trying to help other people.”

Motte's launched his own “Motter's Mental Health Fund,” with proceeds benefiting mental health initiative­s and foundation­s.

He's also emerged as an advocate for women's hockey.

“We can't just support the men's side, we support the women, as well. There are a lot of talented women out there, through the college game all the way up into the pros, and little things like this is something easy that we can do to show our support for them,” he said earlier this season, when he was seen wearing a hoodie that supported the Profession­al Women's Hockey Players' Associatio­n.

Motte's dream of being an NHLer first started to crystalliz­e when he made the U.S. National Team Developmen­t Program. Two years there led to him being recruited by the University of Michigan, and ultimately being drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the fourth round of the 2013 NHL draft.

His junior year at Michigan found him playing on the top line with Kyle Connor and J.T. Compher. It was an electric season as he scored 32 goals in 38 games on a stacked Wolverines team.

Motte made his NHL debut the next season with the Blackhawks. He was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets the next summer.

In Columbus — like in his rookie season in Chicago — he bounced between the NHL and AHL, before being traded at the deadline to Vancouver. He's been in the NHL ever since.

In 24 games this year, he has six goals and three assists. He's battled with injuries the last two seasons, but head coach Travis Green is always quick to note how important Motte is to the team's overall playing style when he's healthy.

That Motte's had to work so hard to get to where he is today helped him find the voice to speak up about mental health issues, he said.

“The bottom line is being true to who you are and who you want to be,” said Motte.

“Throughout my career I've had to try to prove myself, I tried to play with a chip on my shoulder.

“You make some tweaks and adjustment­s to get to the NHL and stick in the NHL, but I think the underlying character and culture in who you are as a player, and what's made you successful, doesn't really change. And I don't think that changes off the ice, either.

“I've always been someone who cares about other people, wants to help other people. And I think I just, with the help of many in our organizati­on, have found an easier path to do that, and more opportunit­ies to do that. So I think there's being a guy who works hard on the ice, wanting to work just as hard, but in different ways, off the ice to have a positive impact.”

The Masterton trophy is handed out by the PHWA every season in recognitio­n of a player's perseveran­ce, sportsmans­hip and dedication to hockey. Each chapter nominates a player and the associatio­n's membership picks a winner.

The trophy is named for Bill Masterton, a Minnesota North Stars centre who died in January 1968 of injuries suffered during an NHL game, the only NHL player to have suffered such a fate.

“There are a lot of guys in this league who are dedicated, who care about themselves and their communitie­s and things, and obviously (the writers) have rewarded them for different reasons, but to just be one of 31 guys for one year, it's humbling,” said Motte.

“But at the same time it shows you what the league and what players and their platforms and organizati­ons are able to accomplish.”

 ?? RICH LAM/GETTY IMAGES/FILES ?? Over the past 18 months, Tyler Motte has been sharing his own story of dealing with depression and anxiety.
RICH LAM/GETTY IMAGES/FILES Over the past 18 months, Tyler Motte has been sharing his own story of dealing with depression and anxiety.

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