@SeanR, have you seen this: After a Life of Punches, Ex-N.H.L. Enforcer Is a Threat to Himself
Over two days at several restaurants, he was regularly surrounded by televisions showing hockey — it is Canada, after all, and it was the N.H.L. playoffs — yet Peat never paid attention. The number of fights in the N.H.L. has dropped in half since Peat’s last full season in 2003-4, to 344 fights this past regular season, according to hockeyfights.com. Peat’s was a prized, popular, punch-throwing role being nudged, slowly, out of the game.
“Hockey’s been the greatest thing in my life, but it’s also been the worst thing in my life,” Peat said. “It was great while I was playing, but what has it done lately? My peers of enforcers have become statistics and the N.H.L. is in denial. They’re denying that the job I did even existed, even though I sacrificed my quality of life, my well-being and my future greatly by being there for my teammates in the present.
“I don’t think the coaches or anyone was thinking of me 10 years down the road when they were pushing me out there to fight, you know what I mean?”
While some former enforcers who have died in recent years took their own lives, Peat said he would not, at least not intentionally.
“I don’t think I’m the kind of person who could pull that trigger,” he said. “But I’m the type of person who could drive a car 200 miles per hour and lose control and end it that way. I get reckless with my life. I think that points to the fact that I fought for my teammates, and I was reckless with my own body. I had to self-sacrifice for my teammates, right?”
Anxiety is another frequent visitor. Peat prefers to drive his GMC pickup everywhere, rather than sharing a ride, because he wants the freedom to leave at any time. Waiting for his father to meet him at a restaurant, he called him several times within an hour to check on his progress, even though the meeting time had not passed. (“Hey, Buddy? Where are you?” he asked, calling his father either Buddy or Wally.)
He admitted to sometimes waking up in tears. He often thinks that nearby parked cars are occupied by people watching him.
“I’ve been studying concussions, and some of the symptoms are things like anxiety and recklessness,” Peat said. “I’m like, ‘Wait — I have all these symptoms.’ I just wonder if I could get rid of the headaches, if all those other things will go away.”
A very tragic story.