Carcillo talks concussions

Retired NHLer makes mental health speaking tour stop at Queen’s

Two-time Stanley Cup Champion Daniel Carcillo talked to Queen’s athletes about mental health last week.

In 429 NHL games, Daniel Carcillo amassed 1,233 penalty minutes and got nicknamed the ‘Car Bomb’ for his play style—people remember that.

“[There’s] this former image of my former self that people can't seem to get out of their head.”

But it’s a challenge the retired pro has to contend with in his latest project, a speaking tour with Ducky Brand Apparel.

Conceived alongside Ducky founder Aidan Girduckis, the Uncharted mental health tour takes Carcillo from Guelph to Ottawa with stops to talk to high schoolers, university students, first responders, and the armed forces.

On Feb. 27, Queen’s varsity athletes listened to Carcillo detail his mental health journey.  “I basically just list all my injuries and surgeries—there's a lot of them—but those didn't almost kill me,” Carcillo told The Journal after his talk.

“What almost killed me were my mental health complications from concussions.”

Carcillo was an enforcer, and he played hockey like a bull in a china shop. But he got as good as he gave—he was like a lightning rod for retaliation. He suffered multiple concussions over his years playing hockey, and struggled with substance abuse as a result.

“I lead [the audience] through my life, pretty much riddled with trauma, and challenges that I've overcome. And I've overcome those challenges by asking for help, and also empowering myself to research and really following my intuitions instead of following what people tell me to do.”

Ducky Brand, which is also partnered with the likes of Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, and Annie Pankowski, is dedicated to reducing the barrier to accessing mental health resources—30 per cent of their proceeds are donated to mental health organizations to make mental health treatment more affordable. 

The speaking series aims to educate athletes about the dangers of brain injuries, coping mechanisms, and resources they have at their disposal.

As well as advocating for the de-stigmatization of plant-based remedies, specifically cannabis, Carcillo wants men to be able to talk frankly about their feelings.

“I talk about how I feel, how I truly feel, which a lot of men my age, especially in the hockey world, view as weakness. And I think that it provides hope and empowers people to be able to connect with themselves, and then speak their truth and talk about the stressors that are affecting their quality of life.”

“That's one of the biggest components of why we're doing this, it’s to recognize signs and symptoms that are affecting our quality of life and then also know where the tools are and where the help is so with proper diagnosis and care we can get better.”

“I've got three kids under the age of five and I just want them to grow up into a world that's free from the stigma of mental health.”

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