We hear whispers of the stories, but they quickly dissipate and rightfully so. It’s none of our business. It’s personal. The sad reality is that these stories aren’t going away.
Off ice issues are as prevalent as ever, if anything, things might be getting worse instead of better.
How can we prevent off ice issues?
Why are off ice issues still a thing in 2022?
Are young players trying to conform or fit in?
Is it a hockey culture problem?
Is it a societal problem?
It would be easy to suggest it’s both a societal and hockey culture issue, but why are there so many young athletes still struggling?
Some people involved are anxious to place the blame somewhere or identify the problem, but are the athletes getting the help they really need?
Do they feel safe coming forward with their personal issues whatever the case might be?
With everything we now know about mental health and substance abuse, why can’t we spot the signs and symptoms earlier? Why can’t we prevent them from happening?
When do off ice issues start?
What are the signs and symptoms the hockey world should be studying?
How can those in the hockey world help?
Is it the athlete’s character or personality?
Is it the pressure?
Is it the culture?
Are these young athlete’s struggling to fit in?
Some are quick to point at all the entitlement that’s present in the game now for being the main cause of off ice issues. If pressure is the issue, where is that pressure coming from?
I’ve asked several people within the hockey world these questions as of late and I have received a lot of amazing insight on the matter, but this is one area of the game that regretfully I can’t write about.
I’ve hit the backspace button more times trying to write this article than anyone I’ve ever written.
In a way I feel I’m letting people down by not writing something, but my biggest concern are the young kids out there that are struggling.
I want to bring awareness to the topic, I want people in the hockey world at every level to understand the signs and symptoms, I want every kid to feel comfortable going to their coaches, friends, family or trusted allies to ask for help. I want these kids to realize that they aren’t alone and that’s it’s ok to ask for help with anything especially off ice issues.
I want these kids to realize asking for help isn’t a weakness, it’s a strength, it’s courageous.
You know what I want the most in all of this, I want every kid going through something right now to realize that there are people out there that will listen and that are willing to help you no matter what.
I wish I could write more, I wish I could share what others have told me as of late, but I can’t bring myself to write it, because I don’t want to screw it up. I don’t want to get it wrong. I don’t want to make things worse. Perhaps I need more courage when it comes to writing a piece like this, but personally I don’t think I would do it justice.
I want to grow the game, I want to help kids that love the game and when I first started writing on FDS, I told myself that I would write anything about the game and go deep, but this one is off limits.
I will say this, we need the hockey world not to place blame, we need the hockey world to rally around those players and their families that are struggling and that will struggle in the future. We need the hockey world to lift people up and support them no matter what.