It goes without saying that life, when in the NHL, isn’t all that bad.
Playing before 20,000-plus fans, seeing your highlights on TV or spreading like wildfire through social media, the fancy hotels and chartered flights on away trips, world-class facilities, and sponsorships with equipment brands — things could be worse. But when those playing days come to an end — as they do for all players — an impasse of sorts rolls around.
The next chapter in life, leaving behind the rinks in search of a new identity, can be difficult. Just ask Ryan Whitney (Scituate, Mass.), the former Boston University star defensemen who enjoyed a 13-year pro career in the U.S. and overseas.
“Say you play until you’re 30 and you started playing hockey at 8 or 9; that’s 20 or 25 years where you only know one thing,” Whitney said. “If you went to school and got your degree, great, but you’ve had this lifestyle and way of life for so long. When it ends, reality slaps you in the face where you’re not all that important anymore. You’re just like anyone else and not getting recognized and those different perks go out the window. It’s hard for guys to go into the next chapter.”