By: David Lall,
Chef Concierge – Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver
The Les Clefs d’Or Canada National Congress officially started on a beautiful, crisp, -38°c day in the majestic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel & the backdrop of the mountains. The delegates could not have asked for a more befitting location to start an exciting Education component on Day 1.
After a gracious and warm introduction to the Castle from our wonderful host, Mr. David Roberts, Regional VP & General Manager, Canada’s Western Mountain Region, we knew that there was going to be something special in store for all of us attending.
I had the honor of meeting someone whom I have watched and respected as a broadcaster, which he has been doing since his retirement from the NHL in 1998. Mr. Kelly Hrudey was a key player in the NHL spanning a career over 15 years. When he came to the stage you could see the man, not the tough goalie that you would have imagined.
An Edmonton native, whom was so happy to come back to Alberta to see us all, a former goaltender with the New York Islanders, LA Kings, and the San Jose Sharks. As he took to the stage he said that he was here to talk about “Breaking Through the Stigma of Mental Health”. This, as you can imagine, is a very sensitive topic and one that is dominating the sports headlines more and more each day. So everyone was all ears, and would soon be shocked with the topic content that was being discussed.
He explained that, from afar, the NHL lifestyle seems so glamorous but that is so far from the truth. There is an everyday battle and struggle that players go through. Many in the audience were shocked to hear one statistic, that 49% of NHL Players actually only play 50 or fewer games in their career. That is very shocking when you think a team play around 82 games a season.
He puts this down to many factors such as the pressure of the game, the pressure to win, and each day, the fear that someone is trying to take your job, the fear of being traded which would come a reality for him soon into his career. There were days where societal and job pressures severely affected him not only on, but also off the ice, so much so that it almost cost him his job as a goalie. Lucky for him that, in his personal life, he had his amazing wife Mrs. Donna Hrudey, whom he refers to as his rock. She receives a great round of applause as she was supporting her husband and was in attendance.
He moves on to the moment when he knew that he had something he did not feel equipped to deal with or had anyone he could turn to. As a tough hockey goalie how could he be down, sad, not feeling happy? So one day on the road it came to a head in Milwaukee where in his own words “I went crazy that night”. He credits his NY Islanders coach, Barry Melrose and his wife for getting him the help he needed. As a sports star, he had access to a wider pool of help (he knows he was lucky) and he was put in touch with motivational, self-help renowned speaker, Tony Robbins.
After working with him, Tony Robbins was able to assist Kelly to prolong his career for another 10 years, an unbelievable feat when you think where he was at that time in New York, before his pending trade to Los Angeles which, be told, literally crushed him.. He goes on to say that if it was not for their help finding him, it would have ended his career.
Since his playing days have ended he has become a regular in the broadcasting world, sharing his hockey knowledge to fans that tune in to Sportsnet. However, this is not where he is making a huge impact, as Kelly is sharing his own personal issues and family struggles with this silent illness.
Kelly spoke of how, even after he had dealt with his own issues, he was not aware that there are many types on mental health, and neither his amazing wife Donna or him ever expected that their daughter was dealing with her own issues. Kelly formally introduced Donna to the room, and asked her to speak about it, as she knows what happened at home as he was often on the road for long periods.
She goes on to explain that her daughter’s symptoms consisted of not wanting to go to school, couldn’t get out of bed, cut off all contact from all her friends, made fake illnesses up which would change daily, yet she would cry intensely as she believed them to be real. The experiences that followed allowed the Hrudey’s to understand that the symptoms are vast and the more they found out, the more Kelly decided to share with others.
He gave some startling statistics, such as if our host, the Banff Springs Hotel, was full, it would be, according to the current data from the CMHA (Canadian Mental Health Association) that 1 in 5 guests would be dealing with mental health issues. According to CMHA, at least 8% of adults will suffer some form of depression in their lives. The room was silent while processing this data.
Kelly went on to add that even though these are high percentages, he believes that it could higher and affect even more people. At this point Kelly opened the floor for questions. I actually asked “Are sports teams more aware of mental health and have they made strides in having the right help for athletes?”. He quickly responded with: “this is a very hot topic and one that I have seen progress slowly, but changes are happening. The Calgary Flames, for example, are much more aware and have help to identify symptoms”. He believes that the world of sports is certainly embracing this new found ailment that affects so many, without showing any kind of physical symptoms. So regular monitoring is key.
He ended by saying that he really delves into his own struggles, family struggles and where he is heading now with his guest speaking in his new book, “Calling the Shots” which is co-written by Kirstie McLellan Day.
I have to say that it was truly an honor to meet this man, he was so grounded, kind, vulnerable, and really showed the raw emotion that sharing is caring. I know that I will certainly be more aware of my colleagues at work and will think twice when someone does not seem themselves. Kelly really taught us all something on this amazing Educational Day
Chef Concierge – Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver
In Service Through Friendship
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