Clint Malarchuk moves Mavericks

“I think being tough is to be tough enough to say I’m vulnerable as a male, and as an athlete,” said Clint Malarchuk.

The “tough guy” Cowboy Goalie has had to redefine what the word “tough” means to him as he has gotten older and progressed through a rollercoaster of a life. 

MSU welcomed former NHL goalie and Mental Health Advocate Clint Malarchuk to campus Thursday. Nearly 600 students and community members filled the Centennial Student Union Ballroom as Malarchuk shared his journey through his career as a hockey player, husband, and as someone who has suffered from anxiety, depression and panic attacks. 

“I have a purpose,” said Malarchuk. “God spared me for those who are still suffering. We think we are the only ones, but we’re not. You are not alone.”

Members of all of MSU Athletics were present at Thursday’s presentation of “The Crazy Game: How I Survived the Crease and Beyond.” On Mar. 22, 1989, Malarchuk was the starting goaltender for the Buffalo Sabres as they were set to take on the St. Louis Blues. With 4:43 left in the first period, the Blues’ Steve Tuttle’s right skate sliced the right side of Malarchuk’s neck. 

As Tuttle and Sabres’ defenseman Uwe Krupp charged down the ice, Krupp had to make a play to try and help his goalie. Krupp shoved Tuttle, knocking him off of his feet, and forcing the steel blade of his skate through the outer flesh and through the jugular vein. Malarchuk lost 1.5 liters of blood that night.

If not for Buffalo trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former combat engineer in the Vietnam War,  being in attendance and getting to Malarchuk in just 14 seconds, it is estimated he would have bled out in just two minutes and 14 seconds. 

This one game would have an extreme impact on his life, and in just ten days, he would be back out on the ice without any type of counseling and therapy.

“Back in my day, you just did not come and say that you were struggling,” said Malarchuk. “It took me a suicide attempt to get that out there.”

Twenty years after his life-changing injury, Malarchuk was still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. His mental anguish deteriorated so much that, on Oct. 7, 2008, he sent a .22-caliber bullet through his chin in a suicide attempt. Luckily, Malarchuk escaped death yet again. 

“Clint Malarchuk in his right mind would have never pulled the trigger, it was the sickness,” said Malarchuk.

 Mental illness is something no one person can battle alone, and Malarchuk not only challenged students to trust someone, but challenged athletes to trust a teammate. MSU Track and Field Athlete Benjamin Wieser was among those who took Malarchuk’s words to heart.

“With my teammates, I know that I can trust someone,” said MSU Track and Field athlete Benjamin Wieser. “I will always be there for my teammates, with track being a multi-event sport, we don’t just have a few teammates, and it’s important to be there for all of the players and the coaches.”

Malarchuk also noted a three-step process called ACE that he uses to navigate the pain. ACE stands for Accept it, Change it, and Embrace It. 

“You know, what I had to go through to get where I am today, and it was a hard long road, but I’m doing it and you know, I still struggle, we all do. And it’s not always about mental illness. It’s about emotional distress and we can all relate to emotional distress,” said Malarchuk.

Malarchuk’s message was well-received, as athletes and students alike said they left Thursday’s presentation with a better understanding of how to take care of their own mental health and rely on others.

“Normally, being a teammate means just playing a sport with one another,” said Weiser. “But we also are making lifelong connections, and I feel like we can come to each other no matter what.”

Malarchuk played professional hockey for nearly two decades, but his legacy will be in how he shares his experiences and makes a difference in the lives of others. After two experiences that could have ended his life, Malarchuk is here now to tell his story. 

“The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you figure out why you were born,” said Malarchuk. “I played in the NHL, I thought that was my purpose, but I was born to save lives, help people, and spread my message to all.”

Malarchuk responds to every email he receives; anyone can reach him at

Header photo: Former NHL goalie Clint Malarchuk talked to over 600 people Thursday about his mental health journey, including the infamous game where a skate sliced across his neck, almost causing him to die on the ice. (Ajay Kasaudhan/The Reporter)

Write to Hayden Lee at

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