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On Her Own

Addiction doesn't just affect the addict. It affects their entire family. Ian White played over 500 NHL games, but retired broke and addicted to painkillers. His wife Tess was left to repair their family, alone. Rick Westhead has more in our TSN Original - Left Behind.

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Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I’m in tears.

For all four of them, including Ian White.

When you check yourself out of the hospital
the day after an OD that almost kills you,
walk home in your bare feet in the cold,
and immediately start using again, your mind is not
your own. You have no rational sense of or ability
to focus on the actual priorities in your life - your wife,
your kids. I don’t know, short of virtual involuntary confinement
for a couple months, how someone so heartbreakingly addicted
can begin to get beyond it.

There is far too much money in NHL hockey to let this happen
to one of your own and to a mom with two young kids.
I know it’s extremely hard to get some people help when they’re
entirely focused on their next high. But there shouldn’t be a single family
who falls through the cracks.

I’m not singling out Babcock, but it’s most coaches,
seemingly most teams. What did we hear endlessly from Babcock?
That the diminutive White, who had nowhere near the hockey sense,
vision or skill to avoid hits like Nick Lidstrom, was basically a chicken sh*t
for not going back and taking the hardest even the most predatory hits, every single shift. I don’t know how to change that mentality. Because it does somewhat get at the essence of NA hockey: you have to be incredibly tough, and brutal hits and painful injuries are a part of your job. And it’s true: White, like most NHL players (and he did better with what he had and carved out a pretty good career) never has the security of a rich, longterm deal. Yes, an addict can lose almost an infinite amount.
But maybe much better security would have meant not having to choose between his health and his ability to provide what I’m sure he was very proud to give his family. We’ve pretty much all had to scrape by at times making vastly less than White did in a year, but it’s all relative in a sense: an NHL player’s expected standard of living and the expenses you take on and then have to maintain make that high salary seem essential. Especially when you know your ability to earn real money as a hockey player is fleeting and becoming more tenuous with every injury.

I hope this will embarrass at least the NHLPA into fundamental change.

Posted by lefty.30 on 01/29/22 at 08:03 AM ET

Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit's avatar

This is shameful on the part of the NHLPA and the NHL. The reason for the establishment of the PA was to prevent this from happening to players that gave it their all. Instead they are not being helped nor are their families. If you’ve ever read the book “Net Worth” it is an eye opener. There is a short movie version of the book, but it doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story of why there was a need for players and their families to be protected after a career is over and done. It’s like nothing has changed at all since way back then.

Posted by Kate from PA now in SC-made in Detroit on 01/29/22 at 07:42 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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