The Malik Report
by George Malik on 08/03/13 at 04:09 PM ET
I was engaging in my usual morning perusal of foreign-language news when I came upon an article from Expressen's Sebastian Mattsson which required no translation: "Depression tvingar stjarnan att lagga av," and I know that, "Ladda av" is essentially "to stop" or "retire," too.
According to both Mattsson and the article he refers to in Der Tagesspiel, Eisbaren Berlin defenseman Constantin Braun is pausing his hockey career because he's battling acute depression, and Claus Vetter reports that Braun's receiving inpatient treatment. The 25-year-old was already receiving support from a team psychologist in Mark Flemming and his brother, Eisbaren forward Laurin Braun.
As someone who battles depression and an anxiety disorder on a daily basis, this is both awful news and, to some extent, incredibly refreshing given that there's still a stigma surrounding mental illness in daily life, never mind professional sports--and in the NHL, despite the superb work of Bell's Let's Talk campaign (thanks to Canadian olympian Clara Hughes), the honesty of TSN's Off the Record's Michael Landsberg (who's spoken at length about his friendship with Wade Belak) and Luke Richardson's Do It For Daron charity--so it's...
Let's say very different to see a team so publicly say, "We've got this support system, we're availing ourselves of our all our options to help this guy, and we don't care about his hockey career right now, just him." I mean, hell, the guy's been hospitalized and the team's treating Braun's treatment like what it really is--an illness and a disease that requires medical attention.
When Shane Corson walked away from the game due to an awful combination of vicious chronic diseases in ulcerative colitis and panic attacks stemming from depression in 2004, the reaction from most circles was more like, "Well why the hell did a tough guy get so soft?" and Corson's probably better-known for the former than the latter.
I obviously wish Braun, his family and his teammates all the best, but in North America, anyway, we are still a ways behind our European friends in "being okay" with the concept that a player who's battling a mental illness has just as much of a right to step away from the game to get treatment for what ails him as we do when an athlete blows out a knee or a shoulder.
I hope that changes sooner than later, but it can only change if we talk about mental illnesses (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, etc. etc.) like they're not simply signs of weakness or "softness."
I can sure as *#$%@& tell you that they're not anything of the sort.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.