Former Top 10 Pick Reveals Why He Had To Give Up On His NHL Dreams

Published March 16, 2023 at 6:53 PM

Professional hockey players, just like everyone else, are subject to anxiety. The high expectations from management, fans, and media weigh heavily on their mental well-being, as well as their own expectations.

Slater Koekkoek, who was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning with the 10th overall pick in 2012, lives with anxiety.

Despite being a promising talent, the defenseman suffered in silence for years, dealing with debilitating anxiety that forced him to give up on his NHL dreams.

Slater Koekkoek Reveals That He Had To Step Away From Pro Hockey 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.

The stigma around mental health is slowly being broken down, as more and more athletes speak out and seek help.

It's important to remember that mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of their status or success. Athletes, in particular, face unique pressures and expectations that can take a toll on their mental and physical wellbeing.

Koekkoek played a total of 126 regular season games in the NHL, scoring 5 goals and 17 assists for a total of 22 points.
As reported by Blade Of Steel - Former top 10 pick explains the heartbreaking reason why he decided to walk away from the game of hockey
March 16   |   93 answers
Former Top 10 Pick Reveals Why He Had To Give Up On His NHL Dreams

Do you think players are more likely to speak out about their issues after seeing others do the same?

Yes7580.6 %
No1819.4 %
Latest 10 stories