from Amalie Benjamin of NHL.com,
Ullmark was at what should have been one of the highest points of his career, coming off winning the Honken Trophy, given to the goalie of the year in Sweden, in 2013-14, a season when he had a 2.08 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage for Modo in Ornskoldsvik. He had been picked in the sixth round (No. 163) by the Sabres in the 2012 NHL Draft.
It was all lining up.
"I came off a great year, goalie of the year, a lot of expectations," Ullmark, now the Boston Bruins goalie, said this month after having become one of the leading contenders for the Vezina Trophy, awarded to the goaltender voted the best in the NHL. "Everything went [south]. That was when my roughest point was."
Because while the ice was supposed to be his refuge, a place where he could narrow and simplify his focus to the work and the game and the puck in front of him, his off-ice worries had started to creep in. Back home in Lugnvik, a tiny town about an hour southwest of Ornskoldsvik, his father's alcoholism had spiraled.
"I said, 'I don't know what to do,'" Ullmark recalled. "I have no idea what to do. I was thinking about quitting. I was very close to quitting and just moving home. But I got in touch with a psychiatrist that really helped me work through it, work through all of my feelings."
The alcoholism hadn't been a part of Ullmark's life growing up, not that he knew. His father, Jan-Olof, had always been around, helping to drive Ullmark and his brother Tobias, older by four years, to various hockey practices, after a stroke prevented the father from working. They'd always had a good relationship.
Then Tobias moved away, and health issues cropped up, and alcohol became both the solution and the problem.
And now Ullmark knew about it. Now he found vodka bottles around the house, heard the lies his father was telling. Now he worried and ached, the weight settling across his shoulders.
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