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Former Top Draft Pick Shares Inspiring Story Of Why He Was Forced To Give Up On His NHL Dreams

Published March 16, 2023 at 7:15 PM

Anxiety is a common issue that plagues many people, regardless of their background or profession. Professional athletes, including hockey players, are not immune to this pervasive issue. The constant pressure to perform at a high level and meet the expectations of management, fans, and the media can take a significant toll on their mental wellbeing.

Slater Koekkoek, a former defenseman for the Tampa Bay Lightning, experienced this firsthand. He was selected as the 10th overall pick in the 2012 NHL draft, and his promising talent led many to believe he would have a long and successful career in the league.

Slater Koekkoek Was Forced To Give Up On NHL Dreams Beause Of Anxiety

He released the following statement:

I Left the game just over a year ago and thought I would share a little bit of my story throughout the next while In case someone else is feeling shame towards their anxiety. You are not alone.

I left the game because my life inside of it had gotten to a place that was unbearable and unhealthy towards my mental health.

I would say I played a majority of my professional games without the ability to eat much, if anything, the night before and the day of the games. Hockey Night in Canada on a completely empty stomach? Lets do this, I guess.

Anxiety shows up in all shapes and forms, one of the ways mine did was the inability to eat.

I would get comments from teammates saying "hey Kooks you know the meals are free" due to my weight dwindling, without them knowing the pain I was going through. I would hear from GMs and Coaches that I needed to put on weight if I was to battle in the corners with the elite of the league not to mention the energy needed to complete these tasks as well. That just put on increased pressure.

I would be asked to go for dinner with teammates on the road. Knowing I wouldn't be able to eat, I would isolate myself and usually walk the streets settling to discreetly bring takeout to my hotel room so nobody would know if I ate or not. I kept this in as much as I could my entire career. My dad had a nervous tummy growing up, I thought that is all had. But when being continuously scrutinized for my on ice performance it caused a downward spiral. A vicious cycle of needing to eat but physically being unable.

Be kind to one another because you never know what someone might be going through. And stop commenting on people's weight... it's friggen weird.

During his time in the NHL, Koekkoek played 126 regular season games, scoring 5 goals and 17 assists for a total of 22 points.

The stigma attached to mental health is slowly dissipating, as an increasing number of athletes step forward to confront their struggles and seek help.

It's important to recognize that mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of their status or achievements. Athletes face unique pressures and expectations that can have detrimental effects on their mental and physical well-being.

As reported by Hockey Patrol - Former Top 10 Pick Reveals Why He Had To Give Up On His NHL Dreams
March 16   |   70 answers
Former Top Draft Pick Shares Inspiring Story Of Why He Was Forced To Give Up On His NHL Dreams

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