Since the death of Walt Poddubny this weekend, a couple of articles have come out talking about his post-NHL struggles:
I like that Proteau brings up the comparison to the movie The Wrestler. Although I’ve never watched wrestling, when I saw the movie, it did make me think about hockey players and what moral responsibility we as fans have for their post-hockey lives. I realize that in these days of multi-million dollar contracts for NHLers (which was not the case in Poddubny’s years in the league) it’s unpopular to suggest any sympathy for athletes who have fallen on hard times. But a lot of these guys are going to live with injuries and pain for the rest of their lives because of what they did to entertain us. And the single-minded focus on developing the skills that got them to the NHL often leaves them without a lot of options when hockey is over. Granted, these days, even a mediocre NHLer could in theory make enough money to live fairly comfortably on for many years to come, so maybe we’ll see fewer of these sad stories in the future. Maybe.
I’m not sure what fans could do differently that would change any of this, in any event. Although it does put a slightly different cast on some of the debates in the game — around head hits, or fighting, or playing hurt — to think about the athletes involved as people who will (hopefully) spend many more years of their lives as retired NHlers than they did as active ones.
(HT to Mirtle for the links to the Maki and Proteau articles)