To us they had it all. We could even say they were living the dream of so many young hockey players and a lot of hard work was paying off in the form of a career playing “Canada’s” sport. Yet the glitz and glamour, the accomplishment and the chance to realize the benefits of their hard work never came to fruition. It’s that fact that makes the deaths of Derek Boogard and Rick Rypien so sad. Wade Belak’s apparent suicide was a complete shock. But here we have three NHL players two at the beginning of their career and one transitioning from player to former player. In a world where so much emphasis is put on what you’ve accomplished and prestige given to those who play professional sports, its little wonder that moving into the league and from player to former player is a difficult time.
I hope for the sake of future players that the NHL proves it’s willingness to help players transition in and out of the game. Perhaps a mandatory mentoring program for rookies for up to five years and that mentoring program picks up again when they leave the league. Having someone to talk to is crucial and can help not only the mentee but the mentor deal with issues in their life. At the very least it will get players and people talking about the stresses about professional sports and they can be dealt with and hopefully, that can be accomplished without more loss of life.
To me it’s elementary … I’m Sandra Watson.