Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Review: TRUE X-Core 9 stick

Posted: September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

Xcore4It is no secret that when we tested the TRUE Hockey (True) A 6.0 and A 5.2 sticks that we absolutely fell in love with them. Everyone we have since showed the stick to and let them – begrudgingly – have a go with them has been equally impressed. Further testament to True’s capability within the stick market came recently when the True A 6.0 won stick of the year award from Modsquad Hockey.

So what then of the new X-Core 9? It would be unfair to do a direct comparison with the top-of-the-range A-series sticks as the X-Core 9 is a beast of its own. While it still uses a lot of the same manufacturing methods and technologies as the A-series of sticks, we place the X-Core in a category of its own.

Out of the wrappers the X-Core  9 has had a bit of a ‘facelift’ when it comes to branding. The True branding is more visible than on the A-series, but the stick still retains its rather minimalistic, but cool, design. The stick is mainly carbon black with cool little design touches in the grip coating and the electric blue elements of the stick definitely add to the cool exterior design of the twig.

The real beauty of the X-Core 9 is in the manufacturing of the stick and in the technology. The biggest change is in the blade of the X-Core. The blade now includes a urethane insert, which has been designed to reduce puck wobble when shooting, but in truth it does so much more for the overall performance of the stick, but more on that later.

First impressions:

Out of the wrappers the X-Core 9 gives you a stick that is equal to the build quality of the A series. It is light weight and despite a urethane insert in the blade, the stick does not feel too ‘bottom heavy’. It is equally balanced and more than holds its own against Xcore3other manufacturers who have made a big play about the perfectly balanced stick.

When used with a stick handling ball, the stick is really responsive and you can feel how each touch of the ball is fed through from the blade to the hands. With this in mind we were excited to be taking the stick to the ice for the first time. The feel for the puck is on-par, if not slightly better than on the top end A-series sticks, but it is in shooting and passing that the Xcore 9 really shows what it is made of.

In terms of puck feel True sticks are in the same category with Sher-Wood. These two manufacturer’s have the best feeling composite sticks in the market at the moment.


We have all had it happen and we laugh at our teammates when the puck just wobbles off the blade after what looks like an otherwise strong shot. This is due to the puck bouncing on and off of the blade of a stick during a shot. This causes less spin on the puck and as a result the puck wobbles and the shooter makes the goalie look really hot. Basically, the more spin you are able to get on the puck, the crisper and harder the shot.

As mentioned, the X-core features a urethane insert, placed strategically along the area of the blade that generates the most spin and where True found that most on-and-off contact with the puck occurred. This means the blade is dampened that True claims produces 30% more spin on the shots compared to other sticks on the market.

The blade doesn’t just feature the urethane insert, but a wholly new rib pattern as well to boost durability and stiffness to the blade. As already mentioned, the changes made to the blade have not sacrificed the puck feel that we fell in love with in the A-series.

When we first took a couple of shots with the X-core, we thought that it had to be some kind of a fluke. All the shots came off really crisp and headed for the upper areas of the net. The shots seemed ‘harder’ than before as well. However, after consistently testing it, the stick really does make a huge difference in your shots. It is quite simply, the best stick we have ever shot a puck with.

What of the passes then? Similar to shooting. The X-core provides an un-matched level of crispness to your passes. Not that we would ever do this in a game, as the coach would have us riding the pine, but you can comfortably make rink wide passes with the X-core and make it look and feel easy. Receiving passes has been easier as well with the X-core in comparison with some of the other big names out there. The puck doesn’t seem to bounce off the blade as much and the stick is a joy to use in give-and-go situations and in front of the net when you need a quick touch and quick release.


Xcore1True to True’s A-series sticks, the X-core features True’s SmartFlex flex profile, even if the X-core comes with a slightly higher kick-point than the A6.0. The SmartFlex makes the stick easy to load for wrist, snap and slapshots. The stick really lets you know where the puck is on the blade and it is so essential to have this feedback when taking shots. Additionally, we have noticed that the stick performs really well in-close situations in front of the net, or when you are going to bury that give-and-go pass.

The X-Core 9 really does perform well on every type of shot and gives you that crisp feel for each of them. In a sentence: This stick is simply damn good!

The bad:

Now that we’ve told you what is good about the stick, then there’s  the bad: Literally, the only thing that we can cite as bad is that the X-Core will set you back by approximately $300, which makes it one of the more expensive sticks on the market. BUT you do get a lot of stick for that money. And from a quality point of view, you can be sure that you are making a sound investment into a stick that has been manufactured well. 

However, we’re sure that the clever guys at TRUE will be making the X-Core technology into a wider series of sticks.


If you are serious about your hockey and want the best performing stick in the market, the True X-core 9 is the way to go. The stick Xcore2brings together some of the most innovative technologies in the market today and the performance is second to none. We would not be the least bit surprised if the X-core walked away with few other “Stick of the Year” awards from various hockey boards and bodies. Simply put, the True X-core 9 is the best stick that we have ever tested and played with. True has raised the bar significantly over the A-Series of sticks and we are confident that the X-core will establish True as one of the premier stick manufacturers in the hockey market this year and would be willing to bet that loyalists to other brands would be making the shift to X-core once they have tried it out.

Why we play?

Posted: August 16, 2015 in Uncategorized


Please click on the image to visit our sponsors at Cross Check Clothing

I think that I have touched on this topic several times across several posts. I have tried to think about what drives me to still play the game and what it is that keeps me so enthralled with it, to the point that it consumes vast amounts of my time.

When you think about the reason why hockey players anywhere play the game, the answer could be a simple “for the love of the game”, but for me the reason I play and why hockey is such an amazing sport comes down to,  yes the love of the game, but also to what goes into it.

On the surface, hockey might seem like a simple game to the seasoned fan, but underneath the surface there is so much more to it. There’s the conditioning, the games, the positional play, the different roles, the physicality and most importantly, how a group of guys come together to play for the crest on their jerseys.

I often thought that I could get by in hockey with just my (limited) skills and that would be that. It wasn’t until I got older that I understood the importance of conditioning and started to take the summers more seriously, as opposed to go into total R&R mode and drinking beer till the early hours of the morning. Nowadays, it is a miracle if I get drunk once during the summer (I usually allow myself to go all out for the end of season party, after that, it is all business). I constantly try and look for ways to improve my physique that allows me to be a better player.

We all know that hockey is a time consuming sport and it is expensive. I may not play in the highest echelons of the game, but I play in a competitive league that keeps getting better and better. After my wedding in 2008, I made the decision that I wanted to give hockey another go. I had been playing recreational hockey and university leagues, but I wanted more. I wanted to compete and win championships in a league that was established. To do that I had to make huge financial sacrifices. I paid out my International Transfer out of my own pocket and that wasn’t cheap, but I wanted to do it because it would show a team that I was committed to playing for them and that I was there to take it seriously. Also, at the time, I had been out of league hockey for good number of years, so a lot of teams weren’t necessarily impressed with my numbers from rec or university. Plus I missed a lot of try-outs and such because I had knee surgery about 8 weeks before the season started.

I was out there to prove that I could play. I travelled a 120 mile round trip to trainings and home games and I never thought it was a chore or too much. I was, after all, chasing my dream. I didn’t mind the fact that usually on a Friday I was beat or that after a weekend of games, my body ached. I knew that after the games I couldn’t sit still and on Mondays, I was down at the gym trying to get better and push myself.

I have lost count on the money spent on petrol, food, equipment, supplements etc. To be honest, that amount probably could’ve paid for a nice holiday somewhere exotic. To be honest, I have far better memories from the game than I would do from the holiday. Hockey, to me, is all about the journey and no holiday in Australia or a round the world cruise, could give me as much as hockey does. With hockey, there are new memories created every time you hit the ice or get into the locker room. And then there are the lessons.

The other reason why I play is because hockey teaches you lessons you will not learn anywhere else. Or you do, but not as quickly as you do in hockey. The game teaches you to be humble. If you get too flashy or cocky, there will be a guy in the game to put you back in your place. You learn about teamwork and how you put your differences aside to pursue a joint dream. There are the lessons learnt from tough losing streaks, personal droughts, wins and what you need to do to maintain momentum. It teaches you so much of life and that’s not even as a pro in the NHL. These values and lessons are engrained in you as a junior. It teaches you work ethic. You want to be the best in the game and in the locker room. You want to show that you are the guy that works his bags off every single shift. It can inspire other guys to push themselves in similar ways.

Most importantly, hockey teaches you hard work. If you want to succeed, you need to work hard. My coach says that just like in a day-job, if you want to succeed, you have to put the work in. Same in hockey. You can’t get by on the ice by slacking, you need to work hard on and off the ice to really make a difference. That same work ethic is instilled into any profession that you do outside of the game.

Hockey also teaches you about respect. You need to respect your opponents, coaches and teammates. Sure you might not see eye-to-eye with people, but you respect their views and you work with them for the betterment of the team and yourself as a person.

So why do I play? Yes for the love of the game, but also because you can’t experience anything like the hockey

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

camaraderie anywhere else. Having the success and winning the title is the single most amazing thing that you can experience. No matter what league you play in, the thought of being a champion is amazing and yet something that very few get to experience. I’m humbled to have experienced it, not once, not twice, but three times in my career. Each of them is special and I cherish those memories. It is for memories like that, that make all the financial, personal and physical sacrifices worth it.

Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

Summer is a state of mind. On holiday in Finland

What a manic couple of weeks. I’ve finally had a chance to relax and unwind a little bit whilst holidaying in Finland and then next week somewhere in the South of France.

So, a couple of updates:

In case you hadn’t seen on Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram, I have signed for the Bristol Pitbulls for another season, which will be my sixth with the team. Additionally, I have a sponsorship agreement in place with the guys from Cross Check Clothing, so I thought that it would be pertinent for me to give a little bit of insight into my decision and the sponsorship agreement.

As I mentioned in my last blog post, I had toyed with the idea of going out on the top and after winning, but after a week of resting on my laurels and getting on the ice relatively early, I felt that I still had loads to give and plenty of miles left in the engine. I think physically, I am way ahead of where I was last year, or even the year before, so the base carrying on was definitely there. Even if I had those thoughts, rest assured, my decision to carry on playing is not going to be for just giggles. I still want to compete and most of all I still want to win. If I wanted to play for fun, I wouldn’t have signed at this level.

When I got word from Richie asking me about my plans, it was an easy decision in at the end. I think my words were “I’m in..”

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

Back for more with the Pitbulls, this time in partnership with Cross Check Clothing

The Pitbulls have given me a lot in this game and I consider myself fortunate to be playing for the same team that gave me a shot for the sixth season. Usually players move around and drop off the map, but I feel lucky to carry on playing for the team I signed way back when. There’ s a further back story to this, but I will let you know about that if that goal is reached

One of the main reasons why I wanted to sign with the Pitbulls again was the atmosphere in the club. I’m not talking about the locker room atmosphere, but the way the fans interact with us and the invaluable work all the people working behind the scenes to make the team possible. Given the circumstances that we play under, there is this underlying ‘punk DIY’ feel to it, which is cool. The easy option for the owners would have been to fold, but they’ve kept going and together, we have some amazing memories and stories to share in the years to come.

The second reason, I was that I keep getting challenged by the coaches. I think since joining the team, I have developed as a player and as a result I’ve become a more versatile on the ice. I know I’m not the flashiest guy out there, but when I get something that I need to do, I’ll go and do it. To me, it’s all about making sure that we succeed as a team and that everything I do on the ice helps us win games.

In the years I’ve been with the team, I’ve obviously made friends in and outside the locker room, and so has my family. The team has embraced my family in ways I couldn’t have ever imagined. I feel fortunate that I got to share some of the most amazing moments of my career with them. But it’s not just my family. I feel that the whole team and the fans are part of one big family and seeing the amount of support we have, no matter where we turn up to play, it’s just indescribable. Like I said in the post where I was looking at the game from the fans’ point of view. To see how the fans live with the team vicariously through every triumph and through every low is truly special.

What of my own personal goals? I said that to me, the number of goals I score don’t really matter. Where yes, I love to score goals and I’d love to be able to be a point per game type of player, to me it is more important that the team succeeds and that everything I do, helps us push for the titles again and bring home more silverware. Eveything that I do on and off the ice must help the team and help us succeed.

The only ‘goal’ I’ve set, is to push to become a top-6 forward on the team. I’ve trained hard the summer and feel like I’ve got the fitness and the stamina to log big minutes.

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

Holiday leg day action in Finland. #TEAMCROSSCHECK

The partnership with Cross Check Clothing: I’ve been a fan of Cross Check Clothing for a few years and have their shirts in my wardrobe already. The guys have created a brand of clothing that really encapsulates the hockey lifestyle, whether you’re a fan or a player. Where there are maybe a few brands that do a similar thing, but Cross Check Clothing have taken a different stance to it and I’m proud to be able to spread the word further this season. I like to call it a partnership as I really want to help expose the brand to a wider audience. For me, it is important to work with people and products I believe in, and I believe in what Cross Check Clothing are doing and what they are creating.

You can take a look at the gear from Cross Check Clothing at:

Off-Season Update 1

Posted: June 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Offseason4With the off-season in full swing, I thought it’d be a good time to do a bit of reflection on the five-six weeks that I’ve already put into it.

First off, I need to start with an omission; After winning the league titles and in the aftermath, I wasn’t a 100% sure if I had the fire in me to go through the rigors of the off season and fully commit myself to training. However, after about a week off, I started to really miss the gym and the work that goes into getting ready for the hockey season. After the first workout, I didn’t need to ask any more questions about my dedication or if I still had something to give. The fire still burns.

I have also been on the ice already and plan on starting skating much, MUCH, earlier than previously. I have sets some things to improve on, in terms of stuff going on the ice and the best way to practice those is to make use of as much ice time as I can get. Ideally, I’d like to hire out a rink for myself for an hour or two per week, but I don’t have deep pockets to do that.

Offseason1I had originally feared that I’d be turning into Teemu Selanne, in that I’d mull my decision for months, but the fact is that I’m still relatively young and managed to get through last season pretty much injury free –  well I didn’t miss any games due to injury – so I felt that I had a good base to start building on. Sure the season went on for a bit longer than for some other teams, but in the end I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

In terms of workouts, this off-season has been a total polar opposite from last season. This time last year I was just about getting my arm out of the sling following my shoulder operation. Something that has aided me a lot in the off season is the work that I put in from January on-wards to really get into game shape. While we had a break at December, I evaluated where I was fitness wise and had to devise a plan to get into better game shape. This decision was borne out of a few drills and game situations, particularly in the corners and face-offs, I just didn’t have enough – or any – upper body strength to really make a difference. Where I found that where my stamina and endurance were OK, I lacked strength and I didn’t start to get that back until March-April time, when it all really mattered.

So that work has given me a good base to build on. Given that in September/October I was starting from square one, I have managed to come in leaps and bounds. I have found that I am now able to push more weight and really test the boundaries of what I can do. I think that up-until recently I still had this mind set that “I need to watch out for the shoulder”, but the more I’ve been working out, the more I realise that I have nothing to worry about.

One of my key areas of focus is to get my shot stronger this season – and as always, speed – so I have been doing a lot of work for muscle groups that you use when shooting. Additionally, I wanted to be more explosive to improve the power that goes into the first two or three strides, so there is a lot of jumping on boxes and stuff taking place and a lot of lifting bars off of the ground and then putting them down again.

Offseason2Additionally, I’ve made a couple of lifestyle changes recently, which have held and I hope will become permanent fixtures in my overall look on life. I’ve often said that I’m the worst person on the planet when it comes to energy drinks. Well, I’ve decided to cut them out entirely and so far, I’ve managed a month without an energy drink. Additionally, I have significantly cut down the amount of other fizzy drinks as well, with the overall goal to cut them out completely as well. In terms of diet, it’s still the same. A lot of experimenting on what works for me and trying to eat like an adult and sensibly. Except for the occasional donut. I’m a sucker when it comes to donuts.

Why do all this? Well, where I said I’m still young, the fact is that I can’t get away with youthful exuberance anymore, in fact I haven’t done in years. I can’t sit on my backside and turn up to find that an 18-year old will skate circles around me. Also, I have this goal in the back of my mind that wherever I will play, I will be in shape to log big minutes and keep that going consistently throughout the season.Offseason3

So that’s about it for the moment. There are some exciting updates and announcements in the pipeline as well, so that should keep things fresh and exciting going forward.

Monkey Nutrition was a relatively unknown commodity to me. I had not heard of the company before and hadn’t seen it on the shelves of the typical supplement stores you might expect to find on the high-street.

About the product:

The product I have been testing is Monkey Nutrition’s Moodulator. It has been designed to calm pre-event, or in our case, pre-game jitters. Usually, in a hockey situation, the pre-game jitters are a good thing and can be used for extra energy and adrenaline on the ice, but there are cases where they can get so bad that the jitters and the anxiety actually hampers your performance.

Moodulator contains natural ingredients, including Chamomile, calcium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6. It comes in a capsule form and it is easily added to your morning supplementation/vitamin intake. I have been taking it in the mornings with our other supplements and our morning water in-take.

Side effects:

I did notice a slight side effect from taking the Moodulator, in that I experienced a very slight case of vertigo for about two days after taking the product, but this soon subsided and it wasn’t something that debilitated or affected day-to-day life.

Other than that, there were no negative side effects from taking the product.


After about a week or so of taking the product, I noticed that our sleeping patterns were getting more pronounced and the quality of sleep was a lot better and deeper, which was a positive sign as rest was in a key role during the test.

Moodulator has been effective in calming nerves both in a semi-professional athlete life as in life at home. The product has been more than beneficial to personal life as well. My mood has been calmer at home and in the office and I have found additional confidence in all aspects of day-to-day life. It has also effectively reduce other anxieties, apart from sports related anxieties.


Overall, I have been positively impressed with the results of the Moodulator. I have been more relaxed at training and on the ice and have not experienced pre-game jitters. Prior to trying Moodulator, during a big game, I was a complete nervous wreck, but after that I was able to exert myself better and not worry about nerves.

The Moodulator has had a positive impact on other aspects as well. As mentioned, sleeping patterns and sleep quality has gotten better and having woken up more energised in the mornings has been a positive. Additionally, the effects have been seen elsewhere. In an office environment the Moodulator has calmed nerves to the point where delivering presentations has not been affected and the confidence in speaking in-front of chief executives has felt natural.

At the gym, I haven’t noticed the Moodulator having much of an impact on weight lifting. This is down to the training programme I was undertaking during the review period. The programme was a maintenance one that also focussed on explosive strength for play-offs.  Also during this time I was rehabbing a sports related injury, so I wasn’t going after big lifts.


Moodulator does an effective job of calming any pre-game nerves. It is, however, recommended that you start using the supplement well before a competition for it to have an effect. I did experience slight vertigo at the start of using the product, but this subsided in a few days. It effectively calmed nerves for big games. Where the Moodulator has a positive impact on your mood as well, I would recommend that you do not use it to treat burgeoning symptoms of depression, if you suffer from those. Additionally the packaging states that you should not use the product if you are on anti-depressants or medication that treats Bipolar disorder.

I would recommend Moodulator to anyone who suffers from pre-event jitters and to those who are about to deliver a presentation or any other work related stressors that cause anxiety. So, if you are a hockey player who struggles with pre-game anxiety, I would recommend you try Moodulator as you will be positively impressed with the results. As long as you start taking it in advance of a game and not start it on a game day. As always, before embarking on any fitness journey and supplementation you are thinking of using, if in doubt, speak to your practitioner.

For more information about Monkey Nutrition and the Moodulator, check out

Champions: A story of growth

Posted: April 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman, Flyfifer Photography,

Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman, Flyfifer Photography,

“It’s been a long and tough trip, but I’m glad I took it, because it was well worth it” – Sage Francis – the Best of Times (slightly adapted).

This past weekend we achieved something amazing. Something that not many players get to experience during their careers, a championship, or a double championship (winning the Western conference and the play-offs). It has been a long journey with its many ups and downs, but I think that a championship season is supposed to be just that; full of ups and downs. Whenever a team wins, it is a story of growth and I feel that it is exactly what our story as a team has been. We have fought adversity for the past three years, playing and training where anyone is willing to give us ice. Thankfully Oxford have been kind to house us for the last two years to give us at least some stability.

During the journey in the past few years, we have won games and lost a few big ones, but they all taught us a lesson on how to pull through and what it takes to seal the deal. Nothing was handed to us on a silver plate. We had to learn to win, we had to learn a lot of things from the start of the season. Most of all, we had to play with a knife on our throat from January onwards. We could not afford to slip-up. To go on a 15 game winning streak is not an easy task, but the way this team pulled together and rallied after Christmas is something that I have not seen in my entire career. In a word, it was unbelievable.

In a way Sunday’s championship is a good indication of the growth I described earlier. Five years ago, I played my first

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

Photo courtesy of Pete Fears

league game against Slough Jets at the Hanger and we got completely drilled, five years on, and I get to celebrate a league championship at the very same venue, with the same team I signed for five years ago. What’s great is that there were so many guys who have been there approximately the same time as I have.

From a personal point of view, this season was really challenging and mentally difficult. Obviously I had a rather big operation on my shoulder in the off-season and lost a lot of time conditioning wise. It wasn’t until August/September time that I was able to start training properly. Before then, where I was able to keep my fitness up by running, I lacked strength as I had gone back to square one. Admittedly, I needed to have the operation as by the end of last season I could hardly turn the steering wheel of a car, which was a little bit problematic.  Then there were other issues, which I have discussed widely here, which added its own flavour to the overall season. On the flipside, I feel that I learnt something new and improved my work ethic because of these challenges and towards the end of the season I had gained back some of my self-confidence, which helped going into the last remaining games.


Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman of Flyfifer Photography and Bristol Pitbulls

While the feelings from the win are still very much on the surface and things seem like a blur from the final few seconds of the game to the buzzer. It was difficult to keep emotions in check during those last few seconds, and me and Adi definitely started to celebrate on the bench before the buzzer went off.

It’s funny, because in my head, I had thought I could easily dress it into words what the championship meant to me, but after taking a step back and as I was standing there looking at the crowd and the team celebrate, I had no words to describe the feeling. From looking at Oxford City Stars celebrate the Cup win in the final last year, filled the fire and the hunger to do the same with the team, I was at a loss for words. And to a greater or lesser effect I still am. (This is taking forever to write – and what I have written probably doesn’t even do the occasion justice).

I am humbled by the support that we received throughout the season and what was amazing was that so many supporters followed us across the south of England – and Wales – to watch us play. The championship is every bit yours as it is the teams’. Without the people who follow us and work tirelessly behind the scenes, none of this would be possible. Having seen the joy of the fans’ faces, it was clearly evident that this meant so much to them as well and to have them live every moment vicariously with us was something unbelievable. Out of the championships that I have been fortunate to win in the past, this one is special – well each of them is – but this ranks so high because of the circumstances we played in and because of the people who have followed us through thick and thin, that and I’d say that I’m more ‘mature’ now than I was as opposed to when I was 17 or 25, so I know to appreciate this more.


Photo courtesy of Graham Goodman of Flyfifer Photography and Bristol Pitbulls

Looking back on it, I said in my signing announcement did that I wanted to win the triple title (Conference, Cup and Playoffs) To quote Meatloaf  “two out of three ain’t bad”. Indeed, not bad at all.

PS.   I found my underwear that I lost

PPS. I don’t ever want a hangover of that magnitude again!

PPPS. I definitely want to win some silverware again!

This article was originally published in the Bristol Pitbulls programme in our match against the Swindon Wildcats. Bits in Italics are new additions to the post.

A while ago, I posted a picture on Instagram and lifting the lid on my mental health issues. To be honest, I have been wanting to do this write up for a long time, but haven’t – for one reason or another – had the guts to do it. When I initially posted the picture, I did not expect the avalanche of messages, “likes” or subsequent re-tweets – though I find it rather rather ironic that you have to ‘like’ someone’s status about mental illness. I did not post the picture to get likes or re-tweets, but rather to show people that there are those who deal with mental health issues within a competitive, semi-professional sports environment.  This was brought on by some comments I had seen on various social media platforms and club officials calling others “mentally ill.” This article has not been written so that I can go on some ego-trip, but to encourage talk around the issues of mental health in a competitive sports environment.

Where in “normal” society, the stigma around depression and mental illness has dissipated and it is better understood, it is still carries a stigma within sports. I’m not saying that everyone is understanding about depression and would rather people just ‘shake it off’. However, in sports it is often seen as a weakness and players can be seen as ‘damaged goods’ as depression can hinder the career prospects of a professional athlete, or a prospect. In the world of sports, specifically in hockey, chirping is part of the game. If someone publicly states that they suffer from depression, you can expect that opponents will make use of it to try and gain a mental edge.

I have been dealing with depression and body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) since November last year, or at least that’s when I sought help, while in honesty, I’ve been probably dealing with these problems for a lot longer. Rather than confront my issues I started to spiral downwards and I had come to the point where I felt that ending it all would be the best option. I was unable to talk about how I felt, because at the time it would’ve felt like admitting defeat. Though I now realise that I should have sought help sooner.

Before then, it was a real struggle at home, at work, at hockey and at the gym. I was having anxiety attacks before I could walk into the office or any other public place and always wanted to be the first one in the changing room so I could get settled. I felt I had to put a face on to be in any situation that required any form of social interaction. In truth, I would’ve rather been curled up in a ball on the floor.

It was – and still is at times – an emotional drain to go to a social situation, but at least I am not at a point where I feel like people (people that I don’t even know), are talking crap about me. I was getting really paranoid about things, even when going to town, I would think that people around were constantly talking about me or judging me. The same would go on at the gym, where normally, I would listen to my own music, but had to start taking my headphones out to make sure some meatheads weren’t talking crap about me.

So why speak out? I feel that there isn’t enough talk about mental health in the world of pro-sports. While there are several noble causes, like #BellLetsTalk, I can’t remember than an active professional player would have spoken out about their issues. There are a number of cases where athletes have come forward post career to talk about it and it is admirable. But to have an active player stepping out and saying “I suffer from depression,” would certainly highlight the issue and to show that it is possible to succeed.

Am I worried about potential backlash from other players? No. During my career, I’ve had opponents/opposing fans say they wish “I’d die”, I’ve been called pretty much everything under the sun, but I try and approach it as part of the game and nothing personal. Besides, the beloved child has many names. My worst enemy on the ice is myself and it is something that I am working on. I set myself high standards and if I don’t meet those standards, I will get angry at myself and start to resent the whole game.

Why keep this from my teammates and coaches? To me this was a personal issue and not a problem the team had to deal with. I didn’t want any kind of special treatment from coaches or conversely (wrongly) that my ice time would be reduced because of this. Additionally, I didn’t want my teammates to act different around me or watch what they had to say. They don’t and it was the group of guys in the room that kept my sanity.

But won’t that be true now, I hear you ask. Well, it might be, but I am in a good place now where it doesn’t affect me in the way that it did in the past. There was a time when I had to block certain social media channels (such as @NIHLNewz on twitter) because the stuff, where intended as a joke, was really getting to me, even though I only received two tweets from said account. It is all well and good to joke and to have a laugh in the team environment and with the fans, but when it comes to the online realm, it is always worth remembering that there is a person behind the joke you are making, and you can never truly know how they might feel about it.

There has been a lot of talk about mental health of late and some media outlets have stigmatised the issue in the aftermath of the GermanWings tragedy. “News” outlets such as the Daily Mail have made a big splash about it, reporting on its front page “Why on earth was he allowed to fly”, implying that any depressed person should not be allowed to operate machinery of any kind. There was also a tweet from a professional Twitter troll Katie Hopkins saying that “all depressed people need is a pair of running shoes and fresh air,” or that all depression is, is like standing in the rain with a Primark paper bag. To this I can only reply that Katie: I work out 5 times a week at the gym, I run 5 times per week and I play hockey at a competitive, semi-professional level and yet I am still struggling with mental health issues.


Where I do agree with the sentiment that exercise helps with mental health, it is not the only solution. I should know this, I went years without medication or seeking help and spiralled deeper and deeper . I find solace at the gym and weight lifting as well as hockey, but like I described above, when you are in the grips of depression, it is really, REALLY, difficult to actually get going and start moving. The threshold that you need to step over is monumental and if you haven’t experienced it yourself, it is difficult to understand. But to say that depression is something that is a minor nuisance (standing in a rain with a paper bag or your public transport running late) is just ignorant.

The reason why I wanted to lift the lid on this was to show that I am in a good place where I feel comfortable about talking about these issues and to show that even when the world drop-kicks you in the face it is possible to go on.  It is always worth carrying on. If me talking about it will help just one person, then it was definitely worth opening up about.  At the same time, whilst I’ve reached a ‘comfortable’ place mentally, I know I am not out of the woods yet, but every time I talk about this, or write about it, I feel better. So with that, if there is a reader out there that needs help, I’m here with open heart and ears.