Friday, April 14, 2017

The Crazy Game...What might have been...
The Crazy Game is an autobiography written by the Canadian hockey goalie, Clint Malarchuk. He was a very successful player in the NHL for over ten years during the hay days of the eighties and nineties and a goalie coach for many years following. He is most noted for taking a slash across his neck from a skate that almost ended not only his career but his life. 
The book has enough in it about hockey to satisfied the avid sports fan but most fascinating is reading about the emotional and psychological turmoil with which Malarchuk dealt. His undiagnosed and untreated mental health problems coloured every aspect of his life.

He is now a professional speaker and an advocate for those with mental health issues.

I wrote him a fan letter:

Dear Clint Malarchuk,

Your book, The Crazy Game was our Book Club selection for February and I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your story. Reading about the game and players as they were in those glory years was fun.

As a former psychiatric nurse and a fellow sufferer of depression, I must commend you on your excellent portrayal of your emotional experiences. How brave of you to share those secrets in such a public forum.

You mentioned in your book that writing your story triggered your anxieties. Likewise, I often get depressed when reading depressing books. However, in The Crazy Game you so fiercely owned your problems that they remained yours and not mine. I found myself rooting for you, rather than wallowing with you, and that made it an uplifting and encouraging experience.

You are right that we must open up, accept, and treat mental and emotional illnesses more effectively. 

Just as you pondered near the conclusion of you autobiography what might have been had you not suffered from mental illness, I have pondered similarly. If I’d not been abused as a child, would I have suffered from depression? Would I have been a much better mother? Would I have been a great writer, rather than a good one?

Then by chance I watched an interview with Gord Thibodeau, the winningest coach in the Alberta Junior Hockey League, who four times has battled cancer. He says in the interview when asked if he could, would he change anything about his life,  “I wouldn’t change a thing, cancer and all.  It is who I am. It defines who I am. It’s the reason I’m able to impart certain things, because of that history.  It is part of what shapes your outlook and your culture as a coach.”

His words convinced me to adapt that philosophy when considering my past misfortunes. Rather than feeling burdened by them and cheated by them, I accept that the depression, the anxiety, the betrayal and is who I am and has shaped me as a mother, wife, author. All is well with my world and I'd not change a thing.

I wish you the best.

ps Here is a link to that interview:


I truly do believe we ought to quit thinking, 'What if...?' and 'If only..' and realizes how strong and courageous and wonderful we are to have made it past our challenges. We must focus on our superb accomplishments. We must feel exhilerated that we faced the devil and won! That despite it all we survived and went on to become an inspiration to others.

It's taken me many decades to get to this point of understanding. Perhaps that's what my characters in my BackTracker series are tying to tell me (I always get asked why the heck I wrote about biker gangs and drugs and such when my life is far-removed from all things criminal and I don't know the answer).

The BackTracker characters are haunted by their pasts. In book after book in the series we find them seeking resolution, seeking forgiveness, wishing to change the unchangeable past. Dreaming of reconciliation--all the while putting their lives on the limb to save the world from the worst criminals imaginable. Well, I haven't quite become that amazing, I have done not too bad.

 Malarchuk did reply to my fan mail, thanking me for my thoughts.

The Crazy Game, What might have been... is brought to you by THE TRAZ Second Edition. 

 Eileen Schuh, Author


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