Kelly Hrudey. Need we say more?
Former NHL goalie of 15 years, current “Hockey Night in Canada” broadcaster, and most humble, gracious and kind man.
We had the absolute honour to chat with Kelly about his mental health struggles, and his journey to “inner peace”.
We highly recommend you read his book, “Calling the Shots: Ups, Downs and Rebounds – My Life in the Great Game of Hockey”, for some unbelievable insight into his NHL career, and some entertaining stories with some of hockey’s greats!
Finally, please check out https://moregooddaysclothing.com to purchase some beautiful merchandise, like the sweater Kelly is wearing during our interview! We chat about the story behind, “More Good Days” in the podcast, so have a listen!
Thank you, Kelly, for being willing, open, honest and brave enough to share your story. We are eternally grateful!
Kelly, Nicki Kirlin, Jenna Fortinski
Jenna Fortinski 00:02
Welcome to the simply Jenna podcast. This is breaking the stigma, a special miniseries. Join us as we interview different people and talk about their journey to wellness. If you’ve thought about getting support, but we’re afraid or afraid of what others might think this series is for you. Stay tuned for some really good stories. Welcome to this simply Jenna podcast.
Nicki Kirlin 00:31
We are so excited for this one.
Jenna Fortinski 00:33
This is a big one. I’m Jenna.
Nicki Kirlin 00:35
And I’m Nicki.
Jenna Fortinski 00:36
Here we are on video for the first time ever, real life. little nerve racking. So this episode is big. This is another episode of breaking the stigma.
Nicki Kirlin 00:51
We had a fantastic guests that we were so thrilled to have so honored that he would join us. Yes. So to build up who he is. He’s a former NHL player. Current Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster played for the Islanders, the kings in the sharks. And his career spent 15 years as a goalie. Yes. And he lives here in Calgary. So we were very fortunate to have Kelly Hrudey join us on this podcast. So yeah, quite a, quite a dream for us. And we’re just so grateful that he was able to give us a little bit of his time to share his story and to also help us work in continuing to break the state stigma in mental health. So we’re excited for you to hear it. You ready to go? You’re ready to roll? Okay, perfect. Okay, so to kick us off, so we wanted to get you to share a fun fact with us. Maybe something that your fans wouldn’t know about? or anything, anything interesting that maybe you haven’t shared in your book or in other interviews.
I may have shared in the book. But what most people don’t know about me is that I never ever thought that I’d have a career in sports and certainly never a career in broadcasting. My goal in life was I wanted to be a park Warden in Bamford, Jasper, Yoho, or Kootenay, something like that. And I’ll tell you the background to that. Yeah. So when I grew up in Edmonton, we didn’t have much money, my mum and dad are lovely, lovely people. But the only holiday we could afford, we had a tiny little camper, I have an older brother, and the four of us would go to the mountain parks for our summer holidays. And so that would be a week or whatever it would be. And they my mum and dad gave my brother and I have a love for the mountains. And so that that’s something that I’m happy to say I pass on to my three daughters. He’s passed it on to his three sons. And so it’s a gift that my mom and dad didn’t know they were giving us but it’s one of the greatest gifts they given me and I will say this, I don’t know when my time will come. I hope I have quite a few more years here. But my last holiday I hope to take to the Rocky Mountains because that’s how special it is for me. Oh,
Nicki Kirlin 03:27
that’s fantastic. That’s so wonderful. Awesome. And how interesting that he wanted to be I know, right? Look at look at where your life turned out.
The game of hockey got in my way.
Nicki Kirlin 03:40
Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. It was so interesting to read in your book that you had only started playing hockey when you’re 12.
Yeah, I played like a little bit. You know, I played ball hockey and street hockey with all my buddies in the neighborhood. And I my mom and dad did have a skating rink on our backyard for a few winters. I’m not sure I can’t remember I still really young, I might have been around for something like that. And but I never really had much of an interest in joining an organized team because I was getting my fill. I was playing ball hockey. And I was you know, I was having a good time. But what I really recognized when I was about 11 is that I was missing all my buddies because they were playing organized hockey. And so I thought, you know what, I want to be around my buddies more often. So I asked my mum and dad when I was 11 if I could join a team. And they gave me great advice. Both of them said no, you have to learn how to skate for a year. And so I did in my community outdoor rink, I’d go after school. Of course I did my homework. Well. Maybe I was a little negligent in that area. But anyways, and then I sort of learned how to state and then the following year I joined a team and it was just magical and playing goal was so it’s so unique, right? It’s so difficult and every day is different. Every day is a new challenge and I’ve always said about playing that position. It’s totally in toxic cating because every day’s news, there’s challenges, there’s rewards, I think personally that very few positions, or players on a team have the ability to directly affect the outcome negatively and positively. And that’s, that’s really a really cool fuel. It’s stressful at times. But it is pretty cool.
Nicki Kirlin 05:21
Yeah. It was incredible reading in your book about how you thought through each process and how you looked at each player differently and learned their little strategies and techniques and how you had to keep track of that. It’s just absolutely fascinating. It really
you have a whole full book on every player and what they like to do. And then if you’re a little bit unsure, I would usually ask my goalie partner like, What do you know about this guy? And what does he like to do in this situation if I if I wasn’t quite clear, or if I just needed to reaffirm something that I had thought. And so I was like, and by the way, I was a guy that really loved to watch a lot of hockey even when I was in the NHL, and there’s no right or wrong answer. Some guys don’t like Wayne Gretzky. Also, he watched a ton. In fact, he still does. And I remember a guy Nick Lindstrom one of the all time greatest right? And I asked him one time, we used to have a Sirius Satellite Radio Show, and I asked him on the show, if he’d like to watch hockey guys, no, I get enough just from playing so. But for me, it was a way of doing my homework too. So I’d watch tons of games. And then I get an idea of what players like to do and, and so on. So that was Yeah, very, very important for me to watch. Unbelievable. And by the way, just before Yeah, in the book, I think I shared about a game had to be manageable for me, right? It’s just it’s too overwhelming to think you have to try and be perfect for 60 minutes or depending what overtime, I go into a playoff game. So I used to break a period down and five minutes segments always so that it was manageable. I always thought it’s kind of like tricking your brain to think Yeah, I can be perfect for five minutes, right? And then you’re not they score, you wipe the slate clean, you have one thought just one simple thought after make the next day. That’s it, you don’t worry, big picture, you don’t worry about giving up three or four more in a row. You worry about one thing that’s making the next Save, and going the next five minutes without giving up a goal.
Jenna Fortinski 07:17
That’s unbelievable. It’s such a good psychological trick really, really, like manage the stress that comes with being in that position. It’s been great.
Jenna Fortinski 07:27
So one of the things that stood out to me in your book, which maybe I don’t know how much you’ve talked about it, but is the handshake. Oh,
I upset a lot of people, especially in today’s world, because and maybe I will change my mind. I don’t know if I will. But you know, we’re such a we’re a safe world we live in now, which is a great thing, but I absolutely despise the handshake. I just I saw no no reason to partake I did every time. But I can tell you I never said anything nice to the guy that beat me and I and and nobody ever said anything nice to me. So you know it’s it’s a different world. There’s no question the world’s changing and I have to adapt. But now you see guys hugging and all that and you know, patting the chest and all that. And that just wasn’t for me. But But now, you know, I’ve been around it for so long that it doesn’t upset me when I watch players do that in a playoff series anymore at the end. But it just seems strange to me here. I’m trying to beat your brains out two minutes earlier, or you’re trying to do the same to me. And now all of a sudden were handshakes. I didn’t get it.
Jenna Fortinski 08:39
I love that you said that you played in a state of hate? Yeah. Because that really captures how competitive it is. Right? Is that? Yeah, enter
again. And you’re Yeah, I had to be that way. That’s just my nature. Yeah. And I just couldn’t perform if I didn’t have that. And I don’t think it’s for everybody. I know some guys can can play without that state of mind. But I kind of liken myself to a guy like john McEnroe, the great tennis player where he was in that state, right? And that’s how I had to be. Now having said that, immediately, as soon as the game was over, like I was, I was fine. You know, I’m not and I didn’t carry that heat over to off the ice. A very few players that I didn’t like, over the course of my career when I got to know him off the ice. So yeah, that was a state of mind I needed to be in to remain extremely competitive. And I don’t I don’t suggest it for young kids that are gonna play hockey now boys or girls. That’s that was just me. That’s how my brain functions.
Nicki Kirlin 09:45
Yeah. Yeah. And when you’re when you’re competing at that level, it’s a totally, there’s, uh, you know, certain strategies that you need to be competing at that level. And that’s one of the strategies that you use, right. So that that was a lot of science for sure.
Yeah. Oh, Okay,
Nicki Kirlin 10:00
so we’re gonna switch gears and a little bit and just get into more of a discussion about your mental health journey. So this podcast sort of mini series that we’ve developed has been around this idea of breaking the stigma about talking about mental health and getting mental health support. So we wanted to know from you sort of, if you can give us a bird’s eye view of what was happening for you, right, before you decided to take that step of getting support, what was happening in your life.
Okay, so this is a it’s, I think it might be a long winded answer, because it’s not simple, right? So I, I recognize recently, I’d say about five years ago, maybe a little bit longer, that back in 9293, when I was playing for the LA kings that I had a mental health crisis, I didn’t recognize it at the time, I just thought something was going on. Back then there, he didn’t really talk much about mental health in those days, and certainly not in the sports world and male dominated, that was something kept to yourself. And so when I was going through that stretch, I was really, really fortunate that my coach, Barry Melrose recognized that I needed some help. And it was not anything to do with technical on the ice, it was something to do with what was going on in my head. So I was very lucky that Barry introduced me to Tony Robbins. And if you’re familiar with Tony, he’s phenomenal guys. So I got to work with Tony, one on one for a number of different sessions. And it turned my life around frankly, and, and I I’ve always told Barry that I’m forever indebted. And it’s, it was a really cool thing that, you know, he he knew I needed some help and, and so he got me the help that I needed. And, you know, we went on to the finals that year, and I played another five years. But leading up to it that summer, my brain was telling me a whole bunch of thoughts are telling me a whole bunch of things. Now, I will tell you this, you know, when you deal with sometimes mental health issues, you’re talking about rational and irrational thoughts, right? To a certain degree, my thoughts were rational, they were just too loud. And and I and they were there making it too real, because I was having thoughts leading up to that training camp. But boy, I’ve been in the league, I think that was gonna be my 10th year, I’m 31 years old. I think the average career is about three years. And I was wondering, and my wife was expecting our third child, I put a lot of pressure on myself wondering how much longer I can play at that level. Just all these thoughts about it was becoming too stressful as putting too much pressure on myself. So I needed the tools to change those thoughts. Tony gave me those. But then you move forward to 2000 and the summer 2005 when our daughter Kaitlin was her life was unmanageable. And she was ultimately diagnosed with OCD and anxiety. And so from that point on our I think our whole family started to learn more about mental health and those irrational thoughts, the loop all these sorts of things. And so we became certainly not professionals, but we understood as much as you know, I think just regular people can about what’s going on to a certain degree. And so in the summer 2019, I started to have some thoughts, again, very similar to what I was having in the summer of 92. About, can you keep doing this and all these sorts of things. And, and, and I, you know, my wife and I, Donna took a trip to Europe in September of that year, to celebrate our 35th anniversary, and you know, the start of the new season and stuff. And I just wasn’t quite as excited about starting the regular season as I normally would as a broadcaster. And about three, four weeks into the season, the starts, these thoughts started become a little bit louder. And so I waited too long. I know that, but I did talk to my wife, Donna about it. And I talked to my children and I agreed to go get some help. And it was maybe the best move I’ve made in a long, long time. And so the person that’s helping me, I went 10 weeks in a row. And then I stopped for three and he and I chatted about that. And he thought that was a good idea actually just to see where I was. And and I was still doing really well. But I thought you know what, I’m just gonna go back again. And I’m I’m seeing him again. I don’t know if I’ll be able to with my schedule and playoffs but he’ll always be there in some capacity because I recognize how important it is. And the thing I always say about this sorry for going on and on. No, no, no, no, don’t apologize. It’s too hard to do it alone too painful. Just if you’re able to get the help talk to somebody. You just won’t believe the change. And for me I was very fortunate because I’m very open about what I was struggling with. The first session was very Emotional, but he and I are really good. In fact, sometimes we don’t even talk about mental health because it’s just, it’s, I’m doing really well, in that sense. So, but I’m not naive by all the are also to think that it’s all behind me now, you know, I think I have to recognize I have to stay on top of it. And whatever challenges I may have that there’s help for me if I needed.
Nicki Kirlin 15:26
Yeah, and that’s so fantastic that you’ve been able to establish that relationship with Him and have that as a resource at the ready. So whenever you’re feeling like you need that support, it’s gonna be there for you, which is so important, right, you’ve taken first sort of more, harder step of of getting initiated. And then once that ball is rolling, it’s always going to be there for you, which is so important.
Right? And I suspect for people out there that might be watching, you might be nervous about maybe making that decision. And you know, you’ll be really nervous on the drive over.
Nicki Kirlin 16:05
Which, which does a lot coming from you, right? Because I think most people would think like, Oh, you can handle anything, right. So it’s important that you share that message as well that nobody is nobody is immune to that right? at all. you’re anxious about the unknown? Yeah, right.
Yeah. It can happen to anybody at any age, like when it started to happen me again, as a 50 year old, 58 year old guy, right. And I, yeah, it kind of caught me off guard. But I also I kind of knew what was starting to happen. Right. So I had the benefit of going through it again, you know, many, many years ago, but I kind of understood what was starting to creep into my life again.
Jenna Fortinski 16:43
Yeah. What would you say was the hardest part of opening up about your mental health journey, Kelly?
Uh, the hardest part would have? Boy, that’s a great question. You know, I didn’t have much of a problem sharing it publicly. That wasn’t hard for me. Because I always felt like you know, if Caitlyn can do it, and she’s been talking about it since 2013. And she shows incredible strength. Well, then I can do that. Yeah. Not as well as Caitlyn. But I can try. I can attempt in my own little way.
Nicki Kirlin 17:20
Yeah. Doing unbelievable. Yeah.
Difficult was just when I went in for my first session. Yeah. Because it’s, it was very raw.
Nicki Kirlin 17:35
So you were mentioning before that you, you were seeing somebody straight for about 10 weeks and had a bit of a break. And then he went back to him. So what kind of signs like what what? How did you know that you were able to sort of take that bit of a break? Like what what was for you that you were like, okay, like, I feel like I can take this on now. What What changed for you? Question so
Saturday’s were becoming harder for me to go on air. And there’s a reason why and that’s not really important. But and so leading up to Saturday’s I was getting more nervous than I should have. And maybe a little bit more fearful. And so that’s kind of when I knew after a number of weeks that I was getting better, because that wasn’t the case anymore. I was actually looking forward to Saturday’s. And the other thing is what I was, you know, I’ve learned about this experience is that, you know, start to enjoy it again, a little bit more. So I was putting so much pressure on myself to try and, you know, be perfect, which is ridiculous. You’re when you’re speaking live, you’re never going to be perfect. So that’s a ridiculous ask, like, beating myself up. And, you know, I was, I guess I was kind of good at telling people to be kind to themselves. But I wasn’t myself, right. Yes. Yeah. Which the odd thing was because when I was going through this for the last, you know, year and a half, or maybe more, you know, what was really cool, I was actually kind to myself, because I knew I was going through something. So if I didn’t have a broadcast that I thought I was very good. I didn’t beat myself up because I was not I wasn’t gonna do that. Again. I knew what was going on in my head. And I didn’t want to do that to myself. So that was kind of interesting. The, you know, that kind of dynamic. That was what was kind of leading to the problem then when I’m in this situation that I was actually kind of nice to myself, which was a good thing. Yeah, it’s kind of hard to understand, you know, how the brain you know, tells you these things. Yeah,
Jenna Fortinski 19:38
yeah. And how it plays tricks on you. Yeah, your brain is playing tricks on you, right? Yep.
And I’ve learned that from Kaitlin we learn that many years ago about their irrational thoughts. Yeah. The how controlling is the one thing that I love the most is how we learned about the loop because I had no idea about the loop and, and you know, it’s going round and round and round and all in Case irrational thoughts. And, you know, you understand that you kind of understand what’s going on and that they might be irrational, but I didn’t have any of the tools to stop them. I needed that. And, you know, and it just simple things like, the person I’m working with says, You deserve this success, right? You’ve worked hard, you deserve it. And instead of looking at it differently, like, you know, you’re not as good as you should be. And all these ridiculous things. Like, when I get off the air now, and whether it’s a flame game or a Saturday night, I am just thrilled. I’m like, really excited. hadn’t been that way for a couple of years. I because because I was just so tough on myself.
Jenna Fortinski 20:43
Yeah. And that’s what we were gonna ask is, how has your life changed since getting help? What has been the biggest change for you?
Oh, well, I, I just enjoyed a whole lot more. So enjoy Saturday night. So you’re, in fairness, that show Hockey Night in Canada puts a lot of pressure on a person. Like a lot of people have that chair. When you’ve been doing it for a long time, that was what was kind of getting me like, you know, how much longer Can you do it? And, you know, I was I was looking for ridiculous things. Also, I wasn’t looking at small, simple little plays to break down I, I thought of myself as I had to be extraordinary and coming up with things during a hockey game that nobody else in the world could see. Which is ridiculous, right? Yeah. You know, hockey has been played for over 100 years, and the game is pretty much the same, you know, the players are better and it’s faster, but a lot of the things are the exact same. So don’t try and find things that are next to impossible to find.
Nicki Kirlin 21:45
Right. You know, it’s it’s interesting, because it’s not surprising to me that you have that mindset given given where I mean, your career, right, that you you had spent so many years trying to be perfect, always striving for this state of perfection. So it makes sense that that would just carry on in your life. I mean, you you have that thought process down, right? Everything needs to go right. So it’s not surprising to hear you say that, which is
interesting, though, right? Because I’m, I think I can say I’m addicted to golf, but I love z. I’m lucky but I’m okay with that. Why wouldn’t that happen? Why wouldn’t that affect me in golf where I, I think that I’d have to be a low handicapper. Like I know. So I think it’s just something that has to do with employment. Yeah. As opposed to fund so. Right. So I think it would have to be something revolving around that.
Nicki Kirlin 22:43
Yeah, totally. Yeah. Okay, so I’m going to, there’s a quote that I found from you, I think it was last year in May of last year, that really struck a chord with us, and I wanted to bring it up and just sort of pitch it back to you and see what your thoughts are on it now. So the quote reads, I’m really proud of my playing career, proud of my broadcasting career. But I think when it’s all said and done, I’ll be most proud of the work my family and others have done in the field of mental health. So I’d love to know your thoughts on that now, sort of reflecting on that and going through your mental health journey? What What do you think about that, quote? How does it resonate with you now?
Um, well, it is by far, maybe the most important thing I’ve ever said. So, again, I am proud of my playing days, my broadcasting days. But when you’ll just look at it, it’s just work. That’s, that’s what it is. It’s just, you know, it’s what I did to make a buck. But this is important stuff, because I think, you know, as you guys know, the Canadian Mental Health Association will tell Canadians that one in five suffers. And I agree with that to a certain degree. But I think that one in five, their life is totally unmanageable,
They’re getting, I think it’s four and five, or five and five, but we all deal with something in some way. You know, it might be a little, it might be something that’s good for you. Maybe it’s something that drives you. You know, some A lot of people say that OCD is good for a lot of people. And I believe I have OCD. I’ve never been Clint clinically diagnosed, but you know, how my brain kind of functions. My kids laugh at me all the time, because I do certain things, and I just can’t stop it. And it’s okay, because it doesn’t affect me in a negative way. from day to day life. Yeah,
Nicki Kirlin 24:30
yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And that is the distinction. Yeah, between knowing that there’s maybe a concern there and maybe not is, you know, how is it? How is it impeding on your daily functioning? Yeah. Do you think that there’s a stigma for men who seek mental health support?
Yep. And I think it’s getting better. And that’s why I’m actually really happy to say that, you know, one of the things you know, I went public because I kind of recognized there’s the stigma and some guys, you know, for for number of years, I’m not gonna say a long, long time, but I bet I’ve been telling my wife for the last four or five years, maybe a little bit less. I’ve been having some men in the hockey industry come to me and privately sharing with me that they’re somebody, maybe in their family, or they themselves have been going through something I’ve had guys tell me that their wife doesn’t even know. So that was kind of like my thing, too, that you know, what, if they’re sharing with me, there’s a great need for us to get more comfortable sharing. And so, and in particular, I think in the sports world, it might have that, you know, stigma about being macho and all that kind of stuff and not showing your feelings, which, by the way, I’m happy to say I think is changing. That’s a good thing, too. You know, there’s a lot of work that people have done over the last number of years, I’m going to say, seven or 10 years, that is really exciting. And I you know, I don’t think this is changing with the speed that a lot of this would like, No, but I think the next I am really hopeful in the next five or 10 years that this is going to be such a topic that nobody’s ashamed talking about. And when you need help, you will be able to go find help immediately, you won’t have to wait in a queue for three months or six months. Because that to me is unacceptable. Yeah.
Nicki Kirlin 26:25
I agree. 100%. Yeah. And that was and the next question was going to be about the stigma around for, for professional athletes to seek support, you kind of answered that as well. So what like, what would be your sort of your advice then for somebody? Or what advice? are you sharing with those that are coming to you and saying, I’m really struggling? I don’t know what to do. How do you kind of guide them? And what’s the advice that you give them time?
Well, I, first of all, I asked him, How are they really doing? And, you know, usually get a pretty honest answer. I hesitate. Because that’s, you know, you don’t always get Yeah, and that’s okay. You know, I, I always recommend getting help. I always I never recommend just trying to get it out on your own. Because that’s, that’s an impossible way to live. It’s unhealthy. I will say this, you know, we’re having a great conversation about this. But I will say, I always recommend people get help, but you don’t have to share your story. If you’re not willing to. That’s not for everybody. Yeah, if you’re if you don’t feel that you need to share or want to share, that’s your personal choice. I am in no way shape, or form, trying to suggest to all people that Okay, now that you think you have mental health issues, you’re seeing somebody, it’s your duty to share. No, it’s not. Not at all, if you don’t feel like you can or want to. That is totally fine. My family or a couple of us choose to we have somebody really close to us. That has issues and they don’t choose to share and that’s perfectly fine.
Nicki Kirlin 28:01
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. And everybody feels differently about how they want to share that part of their story. Right. Yeah. So
Jenna Fortinski 28:07
absolutely. So we want to ask you, and I don’t know.
I haven’t cried yet, either.
Nicki Kirlin 28:20
We have Kleenex here, but we can’t, you know, can’t pass it through the computer. So maybe a tough question. We’re wondering like, what your opinion is on living the life of a professional athlete and being famous. What does that been like for you? Do you like? Is it everything that people think it is?
A Boy, that’s a really difficult question for me, because it’s, I guess it’s the only life I’ve known Really? Yeah. And so first of all, I don’t think that I’m famous, and I try not to be that way I will. Since you read the book, you will know one story, maybe it’s my favorite about the relationship I have with my wife, Donna. And, you know, we got traded to LA and Bruce McCall. Love the guy. He tried to make us a really, really popular team. And we were because of Wayne. And so we weren’t the best team in the world. But we were maybe the most popular team in the world. And so that puts a lot of stress on you. Yeah. You know, you’re learning about popularity, how to deal with that. There’s a bunch of other stuff going on behind the scenes, which isn’t important to the story anymore, but we were leaving the arena after game my wife and I and I suspect I wasn’t as nice as I should have been to some autograph seekers. Until we get to the car we sit down before I can even put the key in the ignition bonuses. That’s enough for that you’re gonna go back to being the good guy he used to be. That was fantastic advice. So that kind of answers your question about how it is, you know, for my life. You know, I go to Tim Hortons every morning, they stand in line like everybody else and
Nicki Kirlin 30:06
see Really? Wow.
Yeah. And you know why that? Well, you guys know where I live. So there’s a Tim Hortons. Before I got really, really busy with Hockey Night and sports net, I used to just have one job. And that was Hockey Night. And so I had the week off, usually, you know, I had to watch hockey games. But yeah, it morning, I would always go to the Tim Hortons by my house and sit down and read two newspapers. And everybody knew me. So, you know? Yeah. Rarely Did anybody ever say anything to me, because they’re, you know, they saw me every single day. So that’s your, the life you lead. And you know, everybody where we live here in our community, they see us out in a boat every single day. So, yeah, it means nothing really.
Nicki Kirlin 30:52
Yeah. But I think like I want I have to say this, I feel like you’re the exception. Like, your general attitude is is fantastic. And you’re very humble person, which I think is, is amazing. And, you know, we sort of commend you for that, because that’s such a fantastic message that you’re sharing that your person at the end of the day, you’re human being and just like everybody else, and that’s fantastic that you take that on, and you really you live that right. So
the one thing too, I think I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am. When you’re on television, and you know, in, in our case, whether it’s a flames regional or Hockey Night, the camera can spot a phony, it that’s what I truly believe. And so if you’re, if you’re kind of a fake person, you’ll be exposed because I’ve always said the camera doesn’t lie. And so you’ve just got to be you, right? Yes. Yeah. Like you. That’s great. If they don’t, that’s okay, too.
Nicki Kirlin 31:47
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay, so we’re gonna switch gears a tiny bit. You’ve mentioned Kaitlin earlier, and you’ve talked a lot about her mental health journey in the past and other conversations and interviews that you’ve had. But we did want to make sure that you had a chance to make a plug for more good days. So do you want to share? Yes. Could you share with our listeners,
their website up here, it’s called, you don’t have to see it, but more good days. clothing.com. And I’m glad you brought it up, because it’s something that we’re really proud of Kaitlin and her husband, Hayden. So they founded the company a few months ago, and, you know, more good days, that’s their slogan, but it comes to the Genesis comes from, after four years of seeing her therapist, Caitlyn came to us one day and Mum, Dad, I’m starting to have more good days than bad. And what a profound statement, right? So when they, Hayden and Kate decided to launch this clothing company, they, you know, they, they shortened more good days, but the whole thing is really about the garden. That’s, you know, if you go on their clothing line, there’s a lot of products here that have, it looks like a little garden, and the flowers pop out. And so that was her safe place. When she was first going to see her therapist. They did breathing exercises, and that was to get to the garden. And the garden is our backyard, in fact, so that’s where she in her mind needed to go. So she would lay down in in the grass. And she would tell us that it’s a really drab place, almost no color whatsoever. And after whether 234 hours of breathing, and you guys know that, that it can be extensive. And that’s something that really bonded us together, by the way. And even if I was on the road, and I had to spend three, four hours breathing with hers. It was good. So, yeah. Yeah, I love those kids and more good days. We’re all looking
Nicki Kirlin 34:04
for. Yeah, no kidding.
Jenna Fortinski 34:07
Yeah. And we really, we wanted to ask you about what was it like as a father and being on the road and and coming into town and then going back out on the road again, and having a close family member that was struggling, you know,
a little bit about that was really, really difficult. I think one of the things that my wife and I recognize, though, like we had to be strong, there’s no question when you have a child that’s going through something like this, you’ve got to be strong because they need the strength, right? And you’re going to make them do things that they don’t want to do. What are especially early on and that was really, really difficult and when she’s basically begging you not to drop her off at dance, and but you know, it’s the best thing for her. And it was a place that she she’d love for years before that and then you know, we would she knows this now, but At the time, she didn’t know, we would basically pretend to drive away, but we didn’t, you know, you can’t do that. So we park in this adjacent parking lot and watch the front door of the dance studio. So, you know, there’s no opportunity for her to somehow make an excuse to the dance studio and leave. So we had her eye on the front door all the time. So you have to do really hard things like that. And it takes a lot of strength. And you know, nobody can do that. Individually, you like my wife, and I shared that. And sometimes she was the strong one, sometimes I was the strong one. So, you know, you have to find ways to make sure that you’re doing everything humanly possible to allow them to get better. And so it does. It does take its toll, though, mentally, for sure. You know, because it’s hard. And it’s hard on the entire family. And, and so you have to make sure that you’re not taking on that burden on yourself, and that you’re talking about it. So that’s what I would also suggest to parents that it’s, it’s something that you’re able to do, you’re capable of it because we were and we didn’t think we would be able to, but we certainly have been able to get through it. But yeah, it’s just really it’s hard on everybody. And that’s why more good days are so meaningful to us.
Nicki Kirlin 36:19
Yeah, absolutely. And it’s fantastic that you were able to get Kaitlyn the support that she needed. And now you’re seeking that support for yourself as well, to know that you’re happy and healthy and in a good place. And then that’ll be better YouTube to help her as she works her way continues on her journey, you continue on your journey. And you can do that as a family
love conversation. I have run with Ron MacLean A few years ago, it was on Bell, let’s talk and we were texting back and forth that day. And his usual brilliant self sent me the last text of the day. And it was inner peace. What a quest. And so I think about that often. And I think about more good days, because I think those two sort of go hand in hand. Right? Or we’re all searching for inner peace. And it’s quite a quest to find it. And we’re all searching for more good days.
Nicki Kirlin 37:11
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And it’s it’s the work of of getting to the inner peace and then holding on to it. Right. And, you know, keeping it a part of your life. Right.
That’s amazing. You said that. So when I mentioned to Kaitlin that I was going to go see the person that helped me with my mental health. After taking three weeks off. She goes, that’s a good idea, dad, because she said, it’s a whole lot easier to stay happy than find that place again. Yeah, that’s right. It’s another profound statement. And all these are all important. Right? And they, you know, they add up to all of us trying to feel better.
Jenna Fortinski 37:47
Yeah, absolutely. Oh, my goodness. Okay. So I’m looking back on your life and living through the experiences of the mental health struggles. If you could give younger Kelly, one piece of advice, what would
I know? And I’ve had this conversation with the the person helping me, and I pulled this for a long time. But then I don’t know what the right balances. But I think one of the reasons why I was able to play in NHL and have a long broadcasting career is to a certain degree, because I was hard on myself because I, I was striving to be pretty good at my job. But when it crosses that line, then what’s healthy and what’s unhealthy? And, and you’re always sort of trying to find that line. And I don’t know what the right answer is. But I can tell you a story. From my playing days early on, I was with the Islanders, and we lost at home, I was the goalie of record and we’re we’re getting on the bus after the game because we’re busing to New Jersey, we have a game The next night. And I’m furious with myself like people don’t know this, but I was usually so jacked after a game if we won that I couldn’t sleep till three or four in the morning and I was so mad at myself if we lost that I couldn’t sleep till three or four in the morning. And so we’re getting on the bus and I am just furious with myself beating myself up mentally and we had a teammate a really good defenseman by the name of Steve Conrad on our team. And he gets on the bus and sits a couple seats in front of me and opens his travel bag and pulls up a book and starts reading and I’m thinking you jerk. Why aren’t you as mad as I am with this? No, honestly, there was a part of my brain for the first time ever in my life it switched on said I wish I was like that, that you know, I could have just gotten on the bus and open my book and just, you know the games in the rearview mirror now. If I did that would have been so successful. I don’t know. Firstly, how my brain kind of works and I you can’t stop that part, which you know, to a certain degree is just who we are and kind of helps us But I don’t know, that’s a that’s a tricky one. I, I still kind of wrestled with that to a certain degree. Because you know, we all want to kind of be good at our job. And, you know, you don’t want to just brush away a bad performance.
Nicki Kirlin 40:14
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, it’s so interesting, when you’re able to look back on your life, and you look at, you know, what has happened, and you don’t like everything, everything happens for a reason, right? And you’re in a certain time in a certain space and you react in a certain way. And, and if anything, it’s it’s healthy to not dwell on it and to not beat yourself up and understand that you reacted that way for a reason at that time. Right. And, and I think that goes back to the beginning that we’re talking about about that competitive nature orderly, right, and having to, you know, go into certain headspace so that you can excel, right?
You don’t want I’m smiling, because it just occurred to me, right, a recent flames game. And at the end of the night, Rick and I had to do a hit for sports net Sportsnet Central. So we stay a little bit longer that you know, you sign off on the game, and then you sit there and then you record this thing that goes into the sports highlight show, right? So recently, I was terrible in that hit like I was, I consider myself a pro. And then I can do those, just like that. Yeah, I was terrible. And you know what it was, it brought a smile to my face. Because I laughed about it after and I didn’t, I didn’t carry it home with me. In fact, I got my laughter, and called my wife and I said, Oh, my gosh, was I horrible in that hit? But I was laughing. I was like, yeah, that’s how it just goes. Yeah, do it. Again, I didn’t ask the producer, let’s take this again, let’s, you know, I was just good. I was just, you know, what this is healthy for you just have a really rotten performance and live with it.
Jenna Fortinski 41:54
And again, that’s another signal of the work in the progress that you’ve made. Right, right. Now you’re advancing right? So
we’re back home is probably going how in the world? Does this guy still have a job? I could do that. I could ramble on and make no sense whatsoever. But
Nicki Kirlin 42:16
no, and I think it like, you know, it’s a much smaller scale for us, compared to what you do for a living. But we often think that too, you know, as being podcast hosts, as we’re always like, you know, thinking and analyzing, did we hit the mark, do we get the information that people wanted to hear? Right? And you can’t help but think back on it, but it’s, you know, how far do you carry it with you? Right? And, and I think the other part too, and we, you know, in our conversation is going back to this idea of we’re all human beings at the end of the day, right? We can’t we have limitations, we have our we have our own limits, where we just you know, you hit it, you’re like, hey, that’s it. I’ve been perfect all this time. And now I’m going to not be perfect.
Yeah, that’s right. And, you know, maybe one of the things to that’s helpful for me, in terms of broadcast cast is that I’m so busy that I probably don’t have the enough time to look back and look at a previous broadcast. Like, what I used to work just at Hockey Night, for a lot of years. Since we’re only working basically Saturdays, we would do like a full on debrief, you know, Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, whatever they happen to be. And we’d run through the previous show. Like we’d pick apart every single segment, like, hey, this was good. This was good. This was not very good. We can’t be this bad again. And this thing’s so you’re always like, going, finding negative stuff, right? And so with now doing these two jobs, flames in Hockey Night, I just don’t have time to look back. Now. I will say this often. And with the help that I’m getting, and I like to do this now. I like to watch almost all my broadcasts now and just sit down, have a glass of wine and watch it and really kind of enjoy it again. Like, yeah, that was good. Yeah, that was good. I liked that part. And sort of, you know, give myself a pat on the back on occasion, and I totally got away from that for sure. for about five or so years, maybe more.
Jenna Fortinski 44:19
That’s incredible. Good on you. Yeah, that’s fantastic. That’s unbelievable. So huge kudos to you.
So nobody likes watching themselves or listening to themselves. Oh. Sony voice and then when you hear it, you’re like, oh, man, I hate my voice.
Nicki Kirlin 44:37
We agree with you. 100%. We can I can attest to that. Yeah. Just before we close out, do you want to leave us with any sort of last little pearls of wisdom that you want to share with your with with our listeners and with your fans?
I don’t know if this is pearls of wisdom, but I’m just so excited that we were having these conversations Um, you know, I think just keeping it real and like, you know, you saw me get a little weepy there. And you know, it’s it’s very emotional, and it’s real. And it’s just real life and instead of hiding it or, you know, not talking about it, this is just great work that you guys are doing. And I’m so honored that you invited me on. And this is I think this is important work because everybody’s going through something, right. So it’s, you know, it’s, you’re, you’re not only talking to just a few select people, you’re talking to everybody, this is, this is amazing. Can you imagine how great this is going to be in five years or 10 years, you guys are going to be rock stars, you’re gonna have the biggest podcast ever, and they’re gonna say everybody’s gonna want to be on your show and share their own journey with mental health. And it’s gonna be it’s, it’s really special. I just so happy we’re having these conversations.
Nicki Kirlin 45:59
Thank you, Kelly. You’re the best. Yeah. Honestly, thank you. We, we really hope that that, that that’s what our future holds. And because we do I mean, we genuinely have a passion to break the stigma of this conversation. So with your help and support, it’s just fantastic.
And now, I had to say all those nice things, because you guys were nice enough to drink cat with all the things to make yourself about that. You’re you guys are great, but I really appreciate that. That’s so nice to sing. In fact, we’re gonna have, you know, the food trays that you dropped off. We’re having that for dinner tonight.
Nicki Kirlin 46:38
Excellent. That makes us happy. Thank you.
Jenna Fortinski 46:42
What an experience that was incredible. Oh my goodness. Fantastic insight from Kelly. Yeah. And it was so wonderful to see that he was able to be vulnerable and to really give us good insight into what he’s gone through how it’s affected him and his family. And also just the realness like we always talk about is that he’s, he’s a human being just like us. Yeah, absolutely. I’m so, so grateful. Thank you, Kelly. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We’re so grateful that you’re able to take this time to share your story with us. And we are hoping that many here and far and wide. So as always, we will close with a quote. And this one comes from Kelly himself. He actually said it in this episode. We are all searching for more good days.