While most National Hockey League fans focused on the controversial information coming out of the lawsuit from more than 100 former players, who claim the league had not done enough to educate its players to prevent head trauma, some former players feel the need to share their tragic stories.
And Nick Boynton has decided to come out with his devastating tale. A former first rounder, twice for a matter of fact, first by the Washington Capitals in the 1997 NHL Draft, and then by the Boston Bruins in the one in 1999, many envied Boynton for making it to the big league. However, the man himself now admits in a moving article on Players’ Tribune he would trade in the Stanley Cup he won with the Chicago Blackhawks back in 2010 for a better health.
“I’ve thought about death a lot over the past few years.About dying. And what it might be like if I wasn’t around.
I’ve struggled a ton since I retired from hockey in 2011, and I’ve faced a bunch of different personal demons. But recently I’ve been unable to shake thoughts of….Steve Montador.
Wade Belak.Derek Boogaard.
Rick Rypien.I knew those guys. They were real people to me.”
While recalling the hard times he endured as an NHL enforcer, Boynton shares the tragic consequences of head trauma and the stress of being a goon on the ice.
“In truth, I absolutely hated to fight. I was scared to death of fighting. But what are you supposed to do when that’s your meal ticket, you know?”
Like the deceased players he mentions at the start of his story, Boynton suffered many concussions throughout his career. And he quickly realized the impact of his every day life.
“I mean, I had eight or 10 confirmed concussions when I played in the NHL, but who knows how many others I just simply played through? I’d bet I had actually more like 20 or 30 of them altogether, and even that might be a bit low.But I just fucking toughed it out every time and kept things moving.”
With a cry for help at the time of this last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Boynton admitted he needed help. Flyers GM Paul Holmgren land him a hand, at the right time.
“The Flyers and Paul Holmgren, who was the GM in Philly at the time, didn’t judge me or make me feel like an outcast when they found out. They sent me to rehab and pledged their support. They looked out for me. Even though I hadn’t been looking out for myself.And to this day, I honestly believe Paul saved my life back then.
I’d be six feet under.”
While Boynton still thinks about Montador, Belak, Boogaard and Rypien, he now says he has a purpose. Now, enough is enough. Everything is not OK.
“I’m fully ready to do all I can to help find a way to fix things when it comes to how hockey treats head trauma and mental-health issues.I have a mission now. A purpose.
And that feels really good.Sharing my story with the world is just the beginning.
My life, I’m telling you right now, will not end up being a waste.”
What a moving story. To read the entire article, please go to the Players’ Tribune.