These Guys Are Just Like Us
Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 11:50 AM
A few years ago, the NHL ran a series of commercials showing NHL players were just like you and I, except they were incredibly talented hockey players. The series was humorous and entertaining, with stars like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin acting as comedic foils for one another. Hey, those guys are like us!
Indeed they are – and some of them battle the same demons of depression, alcohol and substance issues, and a whole host of other human emotions. Recently Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien, two players who had spent time in the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioral health programs, died unexpectedly at ages 28 and 27, respectively. The programs, which are run in conjunction with the NHL Players’ Association, have helped many athletes cope with whatever problems they may be facing. But on the heels of these two tragedies, it appears NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is going to look into the programs with the NHLPA to make sure everything that can be done is being done.
Bettman was quoted in a Globe and Mail article as saying that he doesn’t think any sports league does more than the NHL but maybe there is even more the league can do. NHLPA union executive Mathieu Schneider calls the program very strong but also shares Bettman’s want to take a closer look at things and see if it can be even better.
Due to the sensitive nature of entering programs such at these details are not forthcoming, but knowing that the league and NHLPA are taking steps to find more ways to help players who may need it is important. We’ve seen our own Jordin Tootoo go through the program and it certainly appears to have had a major positive impact on him. Taking that step to admit to needing help is a giant one – especially in the macho microcosm of an NHL dressing room. It is my fervent hope that what is already an established program can indeed reach out and help even more players in need. Sometimes there are things in life bigger than one person, no matter how capable, can handle.
Because, hey… these guys are just like us.