Clint Malarchuk

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Clint Malarchuk
Clint Malarchuk cadré.jpg
Malarchuk playing for the Quebec Nordiques in 1986
Born (1961-05-01) May 1, 1961 (age 57)
Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada
Height 6 ft 1 in (185 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Quebec Nordiques
Washington Capitals
Buffalo Sabres
NHL Draft 74th overall, 1981
Quebec Nordiques
Playing career 1981–1996

Clint Malarchuk (born May 1, 1961) is a Canadian retired professional ice hockey goaltender who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) between 1981 and 1992. He has been a coach for four NHL teams and two minor league teams, most recently the Calgary Flames. He was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta, raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and lives in Alberta and Nevada.[1]

Malarchuk survived a life-threatening injury during a 1989 NHL game when Steve Tuttle's skate blade sliced his carotid artery,[2] causing immediate massive blood loss.

Playing career[edit]

Malarchuk played junior hockey for the Portland Winter Hawks of the Western Hockey League (WHL). He then went on to play professionally in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Quebec Nordiques, Washington Capitals, and Buffalo Sabres, and in the International Hockey League (IHL) for the San Diego Gulls and Las Vegas Thunder. He had a career record of 141 wins, 130 losses, 45 ties, 12 shutouts, and an .885 save percentage.

Malarchuk made his NHL debut with the Nordiques on December 13, 1981, getting the start in goal in a road game against the Buffalo Sabres. The Nordiques were dissatisfied with back-up goaltender Michel Plasse at the time, and decided to give Malarchuk a look, in spite of his young age (he had just turned 20 a few months earlier). He did well enough in his first game, a 4-4 tie, but the second one, two days later, was a lot tougher, as he faced the defending Stanley Cup champions, the New York Islanders. The Nordiques favored a wide-open style of play at the time, and Malarchuk was left largely to his own devices and faced 37 shots, letting 10 goals past him, in a wild 10-7 loss, in what was the highest scoring game in the history of the Nassau Coliseum.[3] Having failed his audition, he was returned to the American Hockey League after that game and did not come back until the following season. Quebec traded Plasse to the Hartford Whalers later that season in return for John Garrett, addressing the team's need for a reliable back-up goaltender for Dan Bouchard.

Malarchuk played sparingly in the NHL the next two seasons, then not at all in 1984-85, as he spent the majority of these three years with the Fredericton Express in the AHL. He became the Nordiques' primary goaltender in 1985-86, keeping the job for two seasons, although there was continual controversy over whether he or local favorite Mario Gosselin should be the starter. In a statistical quirk, during the 1984 NHL Playoffs, he was not credited with a game played, but still was assessed with 15 penalty minutes. In Game 6 of the Adams Division Finals against the Montréal Canadiens on April 20, he was handed both a major penalty and a game misconduct for leaving his team's bench to take part in an on-ice brawl. He was traded to the Washington Capitals after the 1986-87 season alongside Dale Hunter in return for Gaëtan Duchesne, Alan Haworth and a first-round choice in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft that eventually landed the Nordiques Joe Sakic.

Neck injury[edit]

During a game on March 22, 1989, between the visiting St. Louis Blues and Malarchuk's Buffalo Sabres, Steve Tuttle of the Blues and Uwe Krupp of the Sabres crashed hard into the goal crease during play. As they collided, Tuttle's skate blade hit the right front side of Malarchuk's neck, severing his carotid artery.[2]

With blood spurting from Malarchuk's neck onto the ice, he was able to leave the ice on his own feet with the assistance of his team's athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli.[4] Many spectators were physically sickened by the sight. The excessive amount of blood caused eleven fans to faint, two more to suffer heart attacks and three players to vomit on the ice.[5] Local television cameras covering the game cut away from the sight of Malarchuk bleeding after noticing what had happened, and Sabres announcers Ted Darling and Mike Robitaille were audibly shaken. At the production room of the national cable sports highlight show, a producer scrolled his tape back to show the event to two other producers, who were both horrified by the sight.[6]

Malarchuk, meanwhile, believed he was going to die. "All I wanted to do was get off the ice", said Malarchuk. "My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn't want her to see me die."[5] Aware that his mother had been watching the game on TV, he had an equipment manager call and tell her he loved her. Then he asked for a priest.

Malarchuk's life was saved due to quick action by the team's athletic trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, a former Army combat medic who served in Vietnam. He gripped Malarchuk's neck and pinched off the blood vessel, not letting go until doctors arrived to begin stabilizing the wound. The team doctor led the pair off the ice then applied extreme pressure by kneeling on his collarbone—a procedure designed to produce a low breathing rate and low metabolic state, which is preferable to exsanguination. Malarchuk was conscious and talking on the way to the hospital, and jokingly asked paramedics if they could bring him back in time for the third period.[1] The game resumed when league personnel received word that the player was in stable condition.[7]

Malarchuk lost 1.5 litres of blood.[2] It took doctors a total of 300 stitches to close the six-inch wound.[8] He was back on the ice in ten days.

Malarchuk's performance declined over the next few years, until he decided to leave the NHL. After this, he struggled with obsessive-compulsive disorder (as he had since a young age), as well as nightmares and alcoholism, but he remained in pro hockey in the International Hockey League. After retiring as a player, Malarchuk continued as a coach.

On February 10, 2008, coincidentally again in Buffalo, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zedník suffered an injury similar to Malarchuk after Olli Jokinen's skate blade cut the front of Zedník's neck, injuring his external carotid artery, causing immediate massive blood loss. Although he initially refused to view the footage, upon viewing it Malarchuk was taken aback,[9][10] saying that he didn't think his memory of his own incident would come back after 19 years. He sought treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder the following year.

Minor pro career[edit]

In 1992-93, Malarchuk was a goaltender for the IHL's San Diego Gulls and played in the league championship.[11] The following season he became starting goaltender for the Las Vegas Thunder, appearing in 56 games and accumulating a record of 34-10-7. He was later hired as the team's head coach and assistant general manager. His jersey number was retired by the Thunder and hangs from the rafters of the Thomas & Mack Center.

Coaching career[edit]

Malarchuk served as head coach of the IHL Las Vegas Thunder in the 1998-99 season and the Idaho Steelheads until 2000. Afterwards he was a goaltending coach for the NHL Florida Panthers during the 2002-03 season. He was signed as the goaltending coach for 2006–07 by the Columbus Blue Jackets. In August 2010 Malarchuk agreed to become the goaltending consultant for the Atlanta Thrashers.[12] On June 17, 2011, Calgary Flames announced hiring Malarchuk as their goaltender coach.[13] On June 17, 2014, the Calgary Flames announced they parted ways with Malarchuk and were searching for a new goaltending coach. He had earlier taken leave during the 2013-14 season to enter the National Hockey League's substance abuse treatment program.[14][15][16]

Gun incident[edit]

On October 7, 2008, Malarchuk suffered what, according to his wife, Joan, was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his chin from a .22 caliber rifle at his residence in Fish Springs, Nevada after a period of stress and domestic problems. The incident was initially described as an accident while hunting rabbits,[17][18] but both the goalie and his wife have since admitted it was a suicide attempt.[19] On October 10, 2008, The Douglas County, Nevada sheriff's investigation concluded the shooting was accidental under suspicious circumstances, but afterwards Joan Malarchuk said she unequivocally told the sheriff it was a suicide attempt "so that he would get the help he needed".

Officers and paramedics at the scene reported that Malarchuk, who was bleeding from both his mouth and chin, was uncooperative and refused treatment. Joan Malarchuk said she sat with her husband and comforted him because she was afraid he would lash out again and get shot by police.[20] Malarchuk was later flown to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno for treatment and released less than a week after the shooting. He then spent approximately 6 months in a rehab hospital being treated for alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.[2]

The Canadian Press reported that Joan informed authorities that her husband was not supposed to consume alcohol as he was on prescription medications for obsessive-compulsive disorder, but was doing so anyway at the time of the shooting.[21][22] Malarchuk later said he believed he was overmedicated dating back to when he was prescribed an anti-psychotic sedative while playing pro hockey in San Diego.[23]

Personal life[edit]

After his playing career Malarchuk settled on a ranch near Las Vegas, Nevada (later Gardnerville, Nevada) where he and his wife at the time raised three kids. In mid-2000, he became certified as a veterinary technician and runs a practice as a horse dentist from his ranch.[citation needed] Malarchuk is of Ukrainian descent.

A visiting photographer once had his camera flash stolen by Clint Malarchuk's emus.[24]

His nickname in hockey was "the Cowboy Goalie" because he was active in the Calgary, Alberta-area rodeo scene during the hockey off-season. He was depicted riding bareback in a front-page newspaper photo while playing for the Washington Capitals, and he was later given horses as a contractual bonus with the Las Vegas Thunder. He also credited his cowboy upbringing for his toughness when returning to play for the Buffalo Sabres.[16]

Malarchuk released an autobiography called The Crazy Game in November 2014. In the United States the book was published with the title A Matter of Inches—How I Survived In The Crease And Beyond.[16][20] The book appeared on the Toronto Star bestsellers list through January 2015.[25] and was made into a documentary film.[26][27]

Following its release, Clint and Joan Malarchuk were public speakers about topics covered in the book such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, support for alcoholics in recovery, suicide prevention, and psychological trauma. On May 7, 2015, Malarchuk was a guest speaker at a Canadian Mental Health Association meeting in Oakville, Ontario.[28] On August 1, 2015, Clint and Joan Malarchuk were keynote speakers at the International OCD Foundation conference in Boston, Massachusetts.[23] They showed the video footage of his sports injury to the audience with the advice that it is potentially triggering to people who are uncomfortable with images of blood and trauma.[29]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

  Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League   GP W L T MIN GA SO GAA   GP W L MIN GA SO GAA
1977–78 Fort Saskatchewan Traders AJHL 33 23 9 1 2015 157 1 4.67
1978–79 Fort Saskatchewan Traders AJHL 52 36 15 1 3030 204 1 4.04
1978–79 Portland Winter Hawks WHL 2 2 0 0 120 4 0 2.00
1979–80 Portland Winter Hawks WHL 37 21 10 0 1948 147 0 4.53 1 0 0 40 3 0 4.50
1980–81 Portland Winter Hawks WHL 38 28 8 0 2235 142 3 3.81 5 3 2 307 21 0 4.10
1981–82 Quebec Nordiques NHL 2 0 1 1 120 14 0 7.00
1981–82 Fredericton Express AHL 51 15 34 2 2906 247 0 5.10
1982–83 Quebec Nordiques NHL 15 8 5 2 900 71 0 4.63
1982–83 Fredericton Express AHL 25 14 6 5 1506 78 0 3.11
1983–84 Quebec Nordiques NHL 23 10 9 2 1215 80 0 3.95
1983–84 Fredericton Express AHL 11 5 5 1 663 40 0 3.62
1984–85 Fredericton Express AHL 56 26 25 4 3347 198 2 3.55 6 2 4 379 20 0 3.17
1985–86 Quebec Nordiques NHL 46 26 12 4 2657 142 4 3.21 3 0 2 143 11 0 4.62
1986–87 Quebec Nordiques NHL 54 18 26 9 3092 175 1 3.40 3 0 2 140 8 0 3.43
1987–88 Washington Capitals NHL 54 24 20 4 2924 154 4 3.16 4 0 2 193 15 0 4.65
1988–89 Washington Capitals NHL 42 16 18 7 2428 141 1 3.48
1988–89 Buffalo Sabres NHL 7 3 1 1 326 13 1 2.39 1 0 1 59 5 0 5.07
1989–90 Buffalo Sabres NHL 29 14 11 2 1596 89 0 3.35
1990–91 Buffalo Sabres NHL 37 12 14 10 2131 119 1 3.35 4 2 2 246 17 0 4.15
1991–92 Buffalo Sabres NHL 29 10 13 3 1639 102 0 3.73
1991–92 Rochester Americans AHL 2 2 0 0 120 3 1 1.50
1992–93 San Diego Gulls IHL 27 17 3 3 1516 72 3 2.85 12 6 4 668 34 0 3.05
1993–94 Las Vegas Thunder IHL 55 34 10 7 3076 172 1 3.35 5 1 3 257 16 0 3.74
1994–95 Las Vegas Thunder IHL 38 15 13 3 2039 127 0 3.74 2 0 0 32 2 0 3.70
1995–96 Las Vegas Thunder IHL 1 0 0 0 4 0 0 0.00
1996–97 Las Vegas Thunder IHL 3 1 1 0 63 6 0 5.63
NHL totals 338 141 130 45 19028 1100 12 3.47 15 2 9 782 56 0 4.30

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b SN Magazine: Clint Malarchuk, The Survivor
  2. ^ a b c d "30 for 30 Shorts: Cutthroat". May 29, 2013. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  3. ^ "Islanders Down Nordiques, 10-7 The New York Times, Dec. 16, 1981". 1981-12-16. Retrieved 2017-11-18.
  4. ^ Video of Malarchuk injury at (Warning: Graphic)
  5. ^ a b "Zednik's injury brings Malarchuk's own nightmare back to surface,, Feb. 12, 2008". 2008-02-12. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  6. ^ Cutthroat reminds Sportscenter veterans of gruesome injury
  7. ^ Mike Foligno goal, 6:27, 2nd Period, St. Louis Blues at Buffalo Sabres, March 22, 1989
  8. ^ Burnside, Scott (2005-11-22). "Other NHL on-ice scares". Retrieved 2007-11-06.
  9. ^ Almost 2 decades later, Clint Malarchuk still haunted by his own gory injury, Associated Press, Feb. 12, 2008
  10. ^ Documentary focuses on former Steelheads coach’s gruesome injury, recovery, Idaho Statesman, May 29, 2013
  11. ^ "Komets shocked the hockey world, Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, May 22, 2013". Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2014.
  12. ^ "Thrashers Name Clint Malarchuk Goaltending Consultant". 2010-08-19. Archived from the original on 2010-08-23. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  13. ^ "Flames name Malarchuk goaltender coach, Snow director of video analysis - Calgary Flames - News". 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
  14. ^ "Calgary Flames in market for goaltending coach". Archived from the original on 2015-10-03. Retrieved 2015-10-02.
  15. ^ Flames part ways with Clint Malarchuk
  16. ^ a b c Saved: How I Survived My Life In Hockey, by Clint Malarchuk with Dan Robson
  17. ^ Ex-hockey star shoots self in chin, The Record Courier, October 8, 2008
  18. ^ O'Connor, Joe. "NHL: Malarchuk shoots himself in chin" in The National Post. October 09, 2008[permanent dead link]
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b Clint Malarchuk The Cowboy Goalie talks about the struggles in his life
  21. ^ The Canadian Press. Probe Into Former NHL Goalie Malarchuk Concludes. October 10, 2008
  22. ^ Gilbertson, Wes. "Ex-goalie injured in gun accident." The Calgary Sun. October 10, 2008. Archived October 11, 2008, at
  23. ^ a b YouTube video of Clint and Joan Malarchuk speaking to International OCD Foundation, Boston, MA, Aug. 1, 2015, 8:00 a.m. in a large room with 1,700 people in it
  24. ^ Malarchuk at long last has his life under control, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 12, 1995
  25. ^ Toronto Star Bestsellers List, January 30, 2015
  26. ^ Goalie: Life and Death in the Crease - The Internet Movie Database
  27. ^ Goalie: Life and Death in the Crease - film trailer[permanent dead link]
  28. ^ Malarchuk lives to tell the tale of devastating effects of mental illness, Oakville Beaver, May 9, 2015
  29. ^ Official Website of the 22nd Annual OCD Conference

External links[edit]