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Canucks news: Hockey Talks’ mental health push has even more meaning this year

The Vancouver Canucks are hosting their annual Hockey Talks night Wednesday to raise awareness about mental health.

A year ago, winger Tyler Motte revealed he had been battling depression for years. Letting others know that it’s OK to talk about their own struggles was his purpose.

Since then, of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has taken over daily life, adding nothing but pressure on everyone’s mental health. More than ever, knowing it’s OK to talk, to ask for help, to share what you’re dealing with, is important, Motte said Tuesday after a quick practice at Rogers Arena.

“Last year, I was able to share a bit of my story in hopes of helping others. With the way times are right now, it’s an opportunity for us to take a step back and realize there may be some of us who are going through some tough times,” he said. “Times are hard right now for everyone.”

At the best of times, one in five Canadians struggle with mental health or addiction issues every year .

This is the ninth year the Canucks have hosted Hockey Talks, which was first inspired by former Canucks winger Rick Rypien, who died in 2011 after battling with mental illness.

The Hockey Talks campaign has grown to 17 teams and looks to break the stigma about mental health issues by sharing resources and stories.

Since 2011 the Canucks and the Canucks for Kids Fund has donated more than $650,000 to support mental health programming in B.C., including significant funding towards and the Balancing Our Minds youth summits, which has reached more than 3,800 students in communities around the province. “Balancing Our Minds summits are youth-led events that help support student wellness, build mental-health literacy, break down stigma, encourage early help-seeking and connect students to appropriate mental health resources and services,” the Canucks said in a media release.

Beyond Foundry B.C., the Canadian Mental Health Association , Kids Help Phone and Wellness Together Canada offer online mental health resources and support.

Smiles for Sutter

Brandon Sutter recording the first hat trick of his career Monday night was, without a doubt, a crowd pleaser.

It got Nate Schmidt so excited, he wanted to get a McFlurry delivered to the veteran forward’s home after Monday’s 7-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.

The only problem was Schmidt didn’t know his address and couldn’t track it down before McDonald’s closed their delivery window for the night.

But in a season where COVID-19 protocols say the players can’t get together to have a laugh away from the arena — and are urged not to do so while they’re still at the rink, either — the good vibe that Sutter’s hat trick created on the bench and in the room post-game was very, very welcome, Schmidt said. It was, simply, fun.

“It was something our team needed,” Schmidt said, flashing an even bigger than normal grin when asked to speak about his new teammate’s big moment. “It’s the reason why you play.”

Motte said that going into the third period, Sutter was asked if he had ever recorded a hat trick before.

“He declined to answer,” the winger said, also while flashing a wide smile.

“You love to see it. He’s a guy that works hard,” he said. “Just great to see him rewarded for a lot of hard work over the years.”

Schmidt did also lament that it was an example of what’s missing from the building, with COVID-19 restrictions still keeping the stands empty.

“That was awesome. Man, we miss the fans, it would be such a cool thing for that to happen,” he said.

Chatfield back in?

It appears that Jalen Chatfield is on the verge of returning from his upper body injury — was it something in his mouth? He shared a photo on Instagram on Monday of a visit to the dentist — as he skated alongside Schmidt in practice, pushing Olli Juolevi to a fourth pairing alongside Guillaume Brisebois, who was brought in to practise for the day (he remains listed on the taxi squad).

Spare forwards Loui Eriksson and Adam Gaudette did not take part in practice, while Braden Holtby and Thatcher Demko split time in the starter’s net, though you imagine Demko will get the start Wednesday after his solid performance on Monday.

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