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Former NHL goalie Malarchuk speaks to Bighorns

September 15, 2015

Former NHL goalie and coach Clint Malarchuk takes time during his visit to Helena to speak with Helena Bighorns players and staff Monday at the Helena Ice Arena (photo by Gary Marshall, BMGphotos.com).

By Troy Shockley, Helena Independent Record
 
Clint Malarchuk commands a room the way he once did his goalie crease.
 
The former NHL All-Star -- in 10 seasons he was 141-130-45 with a 3.47 goals-against average, an .885 save percentage and 12 shutouts over 338 games -- had that skill on full display Monday afternoon. Ahead of an evening speaking engagement at Carroll College to kick off NAMIWalk Week, he took time to share some of his story with the NA3HL's Helena Bighorns.
 
With the team gathered in an upstairs meeting room at the Helena Ice Arena, the man known as the Cowboy Goalie touched often on work ethic and leadership.
 
"I didn't have a lot of skill," he told the players, telling them, also, that he harnessed his obsessive compulsive disorder in his quest for hockey greatness. "I had some skill. But I had work ethic. My OCD ... most of it was focused on being an NHL player. It made me work. My OCD really helped me get to the NHL. Now, I'm not saying you need OCD to play in the NHL. But you do need a mindset."
 
Into horses and rodeo since he was a kid, Malarchuk talked about briefly thinking about becoming a veterinarian.
 
"But do you know how much school you need to have to become a veterinarian?! But I was willing to do what it took to be in the NHL. That appealed to me. That was a legitimate goal I was willing to put in the work for.
 
"Know what your goal is. Are you willing to put in the work? If you're willing, nothing will stop you."
 
In his climb to the NHL, Malarchuk embodied that mantra. Even after he reached the top level of his game, he continued to look for what else he could do, what else he could learn.
 
That was no more evident than when, as a 27-year-old goalie with the Washington Capitals, he found that Soviet Union star Vladislav Tretiak -- widely considered to be one of the greatest goalies to ever play the game -- was holding a summer hockey camp.
 
Paying his own way to the camp, the NHL goalie took the ice along with his fellow campers.
 
They were all 12 and 13 years old.
 
"I was willing to humble myself," he said, "because I knew I could learn something. If you really want something, be willing to do the extra."
 
Which, as it turns out, circles back for Malarchuk, to horses.
 
While coaching the Idaho Steelheads in the West Coast Hockey League, he finally finished putting in the extra. And he is now a certified equine dentist and chiropractor, earning that distinction from the Academy of Equine Dentistry in Idaho.
 
That effort also lends itself to Malarchuk's message of leading by example.
 
Bighorns coach Jon Jonasson was thrilled to have that message shared with his group.
 
"He's well-renowned for his hockey and his life story, and it really is beneficial for these younger guys to hear stuff like that, along with the coaching staff and everyone else involved," Jonasson said. "It goes along with our team building we're already working on. It helps us hammer home when you get an influential speaker to come in and talk to the team it definitely hits more home for the guys than just hearing it from one of us."
 
Read the rest of the feature story here.
 
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