Rehabilitation CentreAgainst Clint’s wishes he was committed to a rehab program in San Francisco. He was not yet ready to give in to the opinions of friends around him; he could handle this; get me out of here. He felt he was in a penitentiary, unfairly imprisoned by his wife and Warden Tina. Initially the plan was to keep Clint for a month but one month turned into six. The ups and downs of Clint’s six months in the rehab centre are described in detail in his book The Crazy Game and worth reading but too detailed to record here. Somehow Tina and her colleagues managed to keep Clint in the program until he was able to let go of his demons. In April of 2009 he was discharged – a different man. Upon his discharge he bade a grateful and emotional farewell to his fellow patients and staff at the rehab centre. He gives credit to Warden Tina for his successful recovery. Outside, he joined an AA group and a church. Furthermore he made a pledge to write his story perhaps not fully aware of the challenges this would present. During an interview with Rinne, Clint told him the book was a calling. “I was spared for a reason, so I said, I’ll do a book and I knuckled down and got things going. And it got tough. If I wanted to help others, I knew I had to dig into those dark places, even though I am good now, I was in a really bad place and I knew I had to talk about it if it was going to help. That’s why it was so hard and also why it helps.” Writing the book was not the end of Clint’s emotional struggles. He had two relapses following his discharge from the rehab centre, the last slip occurring as the final chapters of his biography were unfolding. Slips are not uncommon for recovering addicts but they are very dangerous. We can all be thankful for his recovery. Clint reports that writing The Crazy Game was the hardest thing he ever did. Details of his relapse are recorded in his book: a book that is dedicated to the two most important people in his life: his mother Jean and his wife Joanie. His mother was his Guardian angel during his early years – Joanie his faithful partner and guardian through the most challenging years of his mental illness and addiction.
Beyond the actual writing of The Crazy Game why was Clint spared? Not just how, but why did he survive so many harrowing close calls? The answer to why was confirmed when, in 2014, thirty-two years after his last visit Clint retuned to his hometown of Grande Prairie for a book signing. He was nervous about the return, worried about the changes. “I've got these childhood memories that I don't want to disappear. But everything changes, that's life. Cities grow, so I'm a little bit afraid of being disappointed if I go back. I told my wife about my time growing up there and I'm afraid to take her up and have me going, holy crap, I don't even recognize it.” (Malarchuk interview with Rinne) During an interview with Neufeld on the occasion of his book-signing trip to Grande Prairie when asked, “What is your mission today?” Clint replied, “ Hockey has given me a platform. The demons and things that I have overcome now become the subject for me to try and help others and give them hope, talk about things and reach out. The book is a big part of that. I travel to give talks, two or three times a month, mostly in Canada but some in the US. The feedback is mostly thank you. For me, that’s my purpose now; it’s where I am today. I believe that’s why I had success in the NHL as both a player and a coach. It’s also why I had all those problems. Now I can help people; I get 10 emails a day from people who read the book or heard me speak. That’s what keeps me fuelled and keeps me going.”
Clint and his goats. Photo courtesy of the Malarchuk family
Clint presently operates from Canuck Ranch located near Gardnerville, Nevada along with his wife, horses, goats, dogs and cats. Clint was never known to let moss accumulate under his feet and during the time he was coaching in the AHL he somehow found time to become a horse dentist or technically, an equine dental technician. When he is not pulling horses teeth he is likely on a speaking assignment to help others overcome the emotional demons that threaten to drown them: the same kind of demons that threatened to overwhelm Clint at numerous junctures in his life. Clint reports that along with horse dentistry, public speaking is now his profession. He belongs to a speaker’s bureau. “They coordinate my schedule. It’s called Speakers Spotlight - a Canadian company for groups that are looking for a speaker to fit their needs. They can simply go to the website and the process goes from there.” (Malarchuk interview with Neufeld) Clint has also agreed to become involved with another exciting project. “I’m in the works with the Canadian Mental Health Association right now. Our goal is to speak to all junior hockey teams starting with Ontario with goals of expanding into Quebec and the Western League. Our intent is to visit OHL training camps of every team and speak to players and coaches. We want to provide advice on what mental health issues to look for and convince people that they should no longer have to hide when they are in trouble. We want everyone to know there’s help and no shame in reaching out for support.” Earlier in the year Clint conducted an eight-day entrepreneurial boot camp with disabled veterans. “That was cool. It was one of the highlights of my winter - bonding, getting to know these guys, and trading stories. They tried to persuade me to go to Iraq and speak directly to the troops there. That’s going to be in the works. I think it would be cool to reach out to those guys when they probably need it the most. That’s on my list.” Later this year, Super Channel in Canada will air a ninety-minute documentary of his life. As for his hockey, Clint has agreed to serve as a volunteer coach for the Tahoe Icemen. “Heh, Stan - this will be my hockey fix. I miss it so this gets me back into the game.”