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‘I get reckless with my life’: Former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat struggles to care for himself

The Peats cannot be sure, but they presume that Stephen's problems are rooted in concussions.
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesThe Peats cannot be sure, but they presume that Stephen's problems are rooted in concussions.

LANGLEY, British Columbia — The place smelled of rebuilding — cut lumber and sawdust, the electrical scent of power tools. Former NHL enforcer Stephen Peat, 36, stood with his father, Walter, inside a maze of studded walls that formed the shell of their new house. It was being built to replace the home that Stephen burned down last year.

The price Derek Boogaard paid for hockey: 10 Questions with 'Boy On Ice' author


John Branch, an award-winning journalist with The New York Times, has written a rich, nuanced and essential book on the late enforcer Derek Boogaard that is required reading not only for the pro-fighting crowd, but also by the pugilists themselves.

In Boy On Ice: The Life And Death Of Derek Boogaard, Branch gently unfurls a story that could begin in any small Canadian town, with a shy child seeking acceptance. Only this time, the child is quickly made into a caricature: “The Boogeyman.”

Branch, a 47-year-old who won a Pulitzer Prize two years ago, has experience around the game, having covered the Colorado Avalanche in the glory years that followed the move from Quebec City. He spoke at length with members of Boogaard’s family: his friends, former girlfriends and colleagues. He quotes from the 16 handwritten pages of thoughts Boogaard left behind when he died, the possible opening strokes of an autobiography.

Read more…

It was here in the back of the garage, Stephen said, where he left the blowtorch unattended. It was up there, in the bedroom above, Walter said, where he was startled awake and escaped down the stairs.

Within minutes, the two-story house on a suburban corner, bought years ago with money Stephen made mostly for beating up opponents in the NHL, was engulfed in flames that lit the black sky and pulled neighbours from their homes. Days later, Stephen Peat was arrested and charged with arson.

“Part of me was like, I want to sit and burn with this house,” Stephen Peat said. “Because I knew the consequences of doing something like that and embarrassing myself like that. It wasn’t my first tragedy in life, you know?”

He excused himself. His head hurt, and he wanted Tylenol and a Coke from his truck. These days, sugar was as much an antidote as acetaminophen.

“That’s how he is,” Walter said, his son out of earshot. “He can’t focus. He’ll be cooking something, will answer the phone and walk away. I’m like, ‘Stephen, you left the stove on.'”

A couple of days earlier, Stephen missed a turn and got lost on his way to the recreation centre where he goes nearly every day. A week before, Walter heard muffled cries for help and found Stephen pinned underneath his pickup truck. Stephen was fixing something but had not set the jack properly.

Walter Peat, 64, the head saw filer at a sawmill here in the suburbs of Vancouver, worries every day about the son he barely recognizes. He worries mostly that Stephen will be another NHL enforcer dead before turning 50. The list, just since 2010, includes Bob Probert, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, Steve Montador and Todd Ewen.

The Peats cannot be sure, but they presume that Stephen’s problems are rooted in concussions. Perhaps, like several of the dead enforcers and roughly 100 former NFL players, one day he will be found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the degenerative brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head.

For now, it cannot be accurately diagnosed until death, but Peat and his father worry that he has it. The symptoms often associated with CTE — memory loss, depression, impulsiveness, addiction, headaches — are part of Stephen Peat’s daily life.

Walter Peat, a widower, overseeing the rebuilding of a house his son set on fire, views himself as the last line of defence for his erratic son’s uncertain future.

He recently reached out to Len Boogaard, Derek’s father, who has spent time since his son’s death in 2011 investigating his final years. Boogaard, 28 and under contract with the New York Rangers, was found dead of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alcohol.

“What I’m going through is what he did before his son passed away,” Walter Peat said.

What a concussion looks like

Stephen Peat last played in the NHL in 2005-06. He has spent most of the years since unable to hold a steady job and fighting off legal trouble — a couple of times from bar and street fights, and currently from accusations of theft, possession of stolen property and resisting or obstructing a peace officer. Peat says his only involvement in the latest episode was as a driver who unwittingly gave someone else a getaway ride.

The headaches, Peat said, began in earnest a year or two after his playing career ended. They often begin shortly after he awakens in the morning and sometimes force him to stay in dark, quiet rooms, occasionally for days on end. Doctors and CT scans have been unable to diagnose the problem.

“I can’t sleep on my right side,” Peat said. “If I do, it feels like someone who weighs 200 pounds is standing on my face, right here.”

He put his meaty hand to his left cheek and temple. Does he think the headaches are related to concussions or the fighting he did in hockey?

“I don’t know,” he said. “The reason, I assume it is, is the blows to the head.”

He turned his shoulder forward in a boxing stance, his left fist in front of his chin and his right fist cocked behind his ear. It was the position he took for dozens of on-ice fights, beginning as a teenager in the Western Hockey League.

“I’m a right-handed fighter, right?” he said. “And all the blows were to the left side of my head. That’s where all my pain is. So that’s my uneducated guess. What other blows have I taken?”

Over lunch and a couple of beers, Peat did not look and sound like someone to fear. His cheerful voice is an octave higher than expected, and his sentences run without punctuation. He made jokes and smiled. He was in a good stretch.

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance
Matthew Claxton/Langley AdvanceStephen Peat was arrested and charged with arson after setting his house on fire.

With a bit of a paunch on his 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound frame, he wore jeans, a white T-shirt, white Nikes and a black Los Angeles Dodgers hat with a flat brim. A few days of stubble almost overgrew a soul patch under his lip, like weeds overtaking a garden.

Over two days at several restaurants, he was regularly surrounded by televisions showing hockey — it is Canada, after all, and it was the NHL playoffs — yet Peat never paid attention. The number of fights in the NHL has dropped in half since Peat’s last full season in 2003-04, 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 NHL 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?”

Walter Peat described Stephen as a straight-A student as a child and a high-scoring defenceman for the local youth teams. Walter’s big regret was letting 15-year-old Stephen go to the rough-and-tumble Western Hockey League when he was drafted third overall in the 1995 WHL bantam draft. Instead of college, Peat’s education ended before he finished high school. Peat entered the WHL as a high-scoring defenceman and exited as a fist-first wing.

Drafted into the NHL in 1998, 32nd overall by Anaheim, Peat eventually spent several seasons protecting star players for the Washington Capitals like Jaromir Jagr, Peter Bondra, Adam Oates and, briefly, Alex Ovechkin. He fought dozens of times against the likes of Donald Brashear, Todd Fedoruk and Jody Shelley. His 2002 fight against Boston’s P.J. Stock is still recalled as that season’s best.

The cancelled NHL season of 2004-5 interrupted Peat’s career, and injuries — to his pelvis, to his neck, a broken hand — knocked him out of the league a year later. Peat found odd jobs, including one as a bouncer. Headaches became a constant companion, he said.

Peat said that he was prescribed Percocet routinely by team doctors in the NHL and spent years after he left the game “self-medicating” with prescription painkillers that he got from doctors or bought off the street. He admitted to cocaine use, too, and still consumes alcohol. He believes that his primary problem is not addiction but pain.

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesStephen Peat last played in the NHL in 2005-06. He has spent most of the years since unable to hold a steady job and fighting off legal trouble.

After the deaths of Boogaard, Belak and Rypien, followed closely by the death of his mother to liver failure after years of cancer, Peat contacted the NHL Players’ Association.

“You start to feel like everyone I touch is dying,” Peat said. “My mom died, the guys I played hockey with are dying. And then I start looking in the mirror, being like, ‘What did I do last night? Is something wrong with me? Are my headaches leading to something worse? Am I getting better? Am I getting worse?'”

That call led Peat into rehabilitation through the league’s substance abuse and behavioural health program overseen jointly by the NHL and NHLPA. The NHL’s Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund, meant as temporary relief for struggling former players, provided a few monthly payments, Peat said.

He returned to rehabilitation in 2015 after he was charged with arson.

“Why are you sending me to rehab again?” he said of his reaction last year. “I was just trying to find an answer to my pain.”

His father cut in.

“They need to figure out the root cause of his pain, not just try to get him off of the pills,” Walter said.

Stephen Peat said he viewed prescription pills as a last resort. (“I know I can go grab five Percocets and sit around all day,” he said. “That’s just lazy. I know there are better ways.”) He finds temporary relief in saunas and hot tubs, massages and acupuncture, but he struggles to regularly afford them. He has studied natural remedies and diets. When he feels the headaches surging, he reaches for a Coke. He keeps Oh Henry! candy bars in the refrigerator.

(“I actually hate to admit but have had to take pills again,” he wrote in a follow-up to the in-person interviews, saying headaches had been “awful” since. “Just extra strength Tylenol and Advil 400s. But it still scares me. Cause that’s how it starts again.”)

While some former enforcers who have died in recent years took their own lives, Stephen Peat said he will 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 mph 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.)

AP Photo/Matt Slocum
AP Photo/Matt SlocumDerek Boogaard, 28 and under contract with the New York Rangers, was found dead of an accidental overdose of oxycodone and alcohol.

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.”

On a warm spring afternoon, the sun made long shadows on the construction site. Workers had left for the day. Walter and Stephen walked the plywood floors, discussing everything from plumbing to window placements. Somehow, the burning down of the family house had brought the father and son closer together.

The two said that Walter was upstairs in bed after 10 p.m. on March 17, 2015. Stephen was in the garage, which was unusually packed with furniture and boxes because the Peats had cleared a spare downstairs room to rent. Stephen said that he had pulled stereo equipment from his truck, parked on the street, to fix on the workbench.

Unable to find a soldering gun, he used a blowtorch, he said, and set it down as he walked back outside, unaware that it was still lit. It burned a hole in a nearby mattress, Stephen said, and when he tried to pat it out with a blanket, flames erupted. They quickly filled the garage and engulfed much of the house.

Standing in the reconstructed garage together recently, Walter and Stephen had contradicting memories of what happened next. It was as if they had never talked it through.

Walter recalled waking up to an explosion (perhaps the gas tank of an ATV destroyed in the garage) and seeing a glow out the window; Stephen said he ran upstairs and alerted his father of the fire. Walter remembered finding the family dog, a Jack Russell terrier named Dawson, under the bed, then carrying him downstairs, but said he never saw Stephen; Stephen said that the two talked in the driveway, with Walter screaming at him.

“What did you do now, Stephen?” Stephen recalled his father shouting.

They both dismissed early news reports that said the two were heard by neighbours arguing earlier in the day. (The Peats said that Stephen was out of town all day and arrived home that night after Walter was in bed.) Stephen disputed the account of a witness who said he saw Stephen intentionally setting the fire. Walter sided with his son.

Jeff Bassett/Postmedia Network
Jeff Bassett/Postmedia NetworkDrafted into the NHL in 1998, 32nd overall by Anaheim, Peat (L) eventually spent several seasons protecting star players for the Washington Capitals.

Stephen left the scene on foot — stopping to direct a fire engine unsuccessfully navigating the knot of suburban streets, he said — and went to a friend’s house. When he turned himself in a couple of days later, he was placed in custody and charged with two counts of arson. Walter and Stephen were placed under a no-contact order and did not communicate for weeks. Stephen Peat went off to rehabilitation for 10 weeks.

The house was uninhabitable. The tenant, gone at the time of the fire, lost his belongings, including a truck in the driveway, and later sued Stephen Peat in civil court. He was awarded $17,455 Canadian, but Peat said he does not have the money to pay. The tenant did not respond to a message seeking comment.

News that a former NHL player set fire to his father’s house spread quickly. In February, to avoid the publicity of a trial, Stephen Peat said, he pleaded guilty to one count of “arson in relation to inhabited property” and a lesser count of arson by negligence. He was sentenced to a year’s probation.

The Peats have bounced between the homes of friends and family, waiting for the house to be rebuilt. Stephen would like to work at a Harley-Davidson store, where he can put his encyclopedic knowledge of motorcycles to good use. He recently began working a landscaping job.

But it is hard to build relationships when you are known widely as the NHL guy who burned down his father’s house, he said. His best friend, it seems, is the dog, Dawson.

Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance
Matthew Claxton/Langley AdvanceWhen he turned himself in a couple of days later, Peat was placed in custody and charged with two counts of arson. 

“Dawson’s the one thing that actually pulls him out of it, because he demands that you walk him,” Walter Peat said. “He’s a little angel, that guy.”

Stephen said, “He calms me when my heart’s really going.”

Walter Peat is frustrated that many of those close to Stephen have dismissed him as nothing but a troublemaker. But he is mostly frustrated at the NHL, and hockey at large, for what he sees as putting his son in a discard pile.

The Peats are closely tracking the class-action lawsuit against the NHL brought by players saying that the league concealed information about the dangers of concussions.

“Right now it seems like a battle we are losing, but I will spend the rest of my life standing up for my son, as I believe he is a good young man, who needs help,” Walter Peat wrote in an email. “Very sad that he has to resort to pain killers, alcohol, and whatever means he can find to deal with his pain.”

More than anything, he misses “that twinkle and smile,” Walter Peat said in another message. “He looks fine, but who can say what is going on in a brain-damaged head?”


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I thought this ht this was a tremendous article on what some former NHL enforcers are going through with post concussion syndrome. What a mess. Hope there's some solutions to this soon.

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Very good article. Thanks for sharing. I have battled post concussion syndrome and associated symptoms for a few years from my days fighting in Junior, although not nearly as badly as these guys who had fought for years in the NHL. I feel for him and I hope he is able to turn his life around and find peace before it is too late. I am able to manage my symptoms and still live a normal life, which I am very lucky and thankful for. Many have not been so lucky. Respect to those warriors. May they find peace.

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Wow, what a sad story. The poor guy, I truly hope he an other sufferers of chronic pain (my mother being one) can find a safe, effective treatment. I glad Peat has a supportive father, but what will happen to him after his father is gone someday? He needs a greater support system. What a shame.

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  • 1 year later...

To add a heartbreaking update, this from the New York Times, November 21/17.


And still there are those who believe fighting still has a place in the game.


‘I Have No Idea How to Tell This Horror Story’

NOV. 21, 2017


John Branch, a sports reporter at The New York Times, has been in sporadic contact via text messaging and email with Walter Peat since writing about him and his son Stephen, a former N.H.L. player.

At the time of the article, in June 2016, Stephen Peat was 36 and experiencing debilitating headaches and violent mood swings. Peat was primarily an enforcer, a player designated to drop his gloves and square off in fist-to-fist combat with an opponent. The Peats presumed that Stephen’s problems were rooted in brain trauma sustained on the ice in so many fights.

Walter Peat, the head saw filer at a lumber mill in a suburb of Vancouver, British Columbia, gave The Times permission to publish the texts and emails he had sent John over the previous 18 months. Some have been trimmed for concision.

(Stephen disputes his father's accounts and said, “I am disappointed in my father since I once held him so high on a pedestal.”)


JUNE 7, 2016

Again, we thank you for doing our story, which hasn’t ended yet. I just hope Stephen can get some help, going forward. We had a great day yesterday, as just the 2 of us went boating for the day. Beautiful day, making memories together.


DEC. 30, 2016: John is copied on an email to a doctor with the N.H.L. Players’ Association.

Dr. Rizos,

We are at a critical point in Stephen’s health. I am afraid, Stephen may become another statistic in NHL players who’s life is ended due to brain injuries suffered from playing. We are desperate for help, as we have run out of resources and energy to cope with this. The NHL has offered zero help. I am sorry we haven’t contacted you sooner, but Stephen is stubborn, and proud. It has gone past that, and hope someone will help. He is suffering badly from memory loss, depression, extreme headaches, and at times suicide thoughts. Along with this, tough when he get frustrated and anger comes out. He has got violent a couple times, and at times I am afraid for my life. I love my son very much, and you have no idea how much this hurts to see him like this. Please help.


JUNE 1, 2017

Just an update on Stephen, not sure if the NHL might want to know, but Stephen is in lockup, been arrested 2 times in the last week for parole violation. May spend the next 6 months in jail, he is real bad shape, and like I said before, I don’t have the resources or the knowledge to deal with this. I saw him yesterday, looks horrible, he is homeless. I know one can lead a horse to water theory, but I am afraid this could be very close to his end. At times he has no idea who he is or where he is.

Stephen needs special medical attention badly, as I also believe he has gone back to self medicating, not sure, but you can’t imagine what bad shape he is in. I fear he may not make it out of lock up, but there is nothing I can do, or don’t know what to do. The system is flawed.

He is in lock up now, most likely won’t get released now. Only violation is not seeing his parole officer, but he forgets, a complete mess right now. Probably the safest place for him, but he won’t get fixed in a cement cell.


JUNE 7, 2017

I will be honest, my health has suffered thru this, and I am at a financial crisis as Stephen has gone through $120,000 since getting out of rehab. And he is demanding more every day, to a point if I continue this, I will be on the street. Stephen can’t comprehend my financial stress he has put on me. I went to meet him at Clover Towing the other day, Stephen looked in real bad shape, as he didn’t even know I was there. I had to leave, and stop in a parking lot next door and just broke down. The police were called by the towing company and they took him to jail. He should be in a hospital, not a jail, we can talk more about this. I will say I have had to get a no contact order as I fear for my safety now. If he is in a state where he doesn’t know who I am, it scares me.


JUNE 14, 2017

John, sorry for not getting back to you. It has been a real $&!# show with Stephen this last few days. I have been overwhelmed with just trying to deal with him. I will try to contact you when it settles down here. Tks for your concern and interest.


NOV. 7, 2017: Walter sends John an email that he sent to Stephen’s probation officer in June, asking for a no-contact order against his son.

I think it best we do not have any contact at all, and if he needs to contact me, maybe a mediator, or thru you if possible.

I need to step away, and allow my son to hit bottom on his own.



Walter sends John his response to a query from Stephen’s probation officer.

I am not sure what there is to discuss. it seems no one wants to help, just rubber stamp things until my son dies. He has had no help from the NHL, and from what I can assume, no help from the government, or law authorities. It is well document that my son suffers from concussion issues, and he is treated like a common criminal. yes, he is breaking the law, but, what is the root cause. His doctors say he is doing drugs, maybe he is, but why, again the root cause. It is very well document that many of these players or people who suffer from concussion syndrome reach out for a solution, but end up with drugs off the street to solve their problem.

He was a young man who had thousand of fans cheering for him every time he dropped the gloves, fighting for the Langley Thunder Junior team, the Calgary Hitman, Red Deer Rebels, Tri City Americans.

Stephen played for the Washington Capitals, for 4 years, one time had 13 fights in 12 games, bare knuckle fights with big guys, some who are already dead now due to concussion related injuries. Yet, here we are, trying to put Stephen in jail because no one has any idea what to do with him. Yes, my brothers and I have asked for a no contact order, as we are concerned for our safety, but at the same time, we love him, and fear every phone call we get, it is someone to tell us he has died. I will tell you this, that John Branch wants to do a follow up story, NY Times, and this story will have an ending. Sad. How we write that ending is up to all of us, I have tried my best, and much like Stephen, have had the door closed in my face. I am 66 years old, sold my house to help, running out of funds, and really, my health has gone south because of this. I have avoided talking to John Branch as it is very difficult talking about a lost cause. Many night, I cry myself to sleep, trying to figure out a new plan. But, no matter what I do, I wake up to an endless problem.

His life is at stake, he used to be the most polite young man, straight “A’ in school, and now, he can’t remember why he gets up in the morning.


Walter Peat


NOV. 13, 2017

Hi John

Tks for replying. Not sure, but the fact Stephen is deteriorating fast, living on the street, has pretty much zero help from NHL, and my relationship with him had gone south. With his condition, he needs professional help, as I would suggest his mind set has gone off the rails. I made arrangements for him to stay at my brothers, and both brothers are pretty much handicap, but ended up being removed by the police for threats, etc. his mind leaves him lost at times. Confused, aggressive, and I will be honest, he scares the $&!# out of me, and for that matter my brothers. It saddens me to seem helpless as Stephen has accused me of interfering in his affairs. I have no idea how to tell this horror story, but I am sure there are many living this nightmare. I am thinking that this may all come out one day, but my biggest fear is my son will not be with us, as he even talks about suicide at times. every time I get an email or an unknown number calling me, about him, I fear the worst news. The legal system, and the medical system hear only wants to paint him as a criminal or a drug addict. I would suggest both may be the case, as his situation has forced him to do what ever it takes to relieve the pain, anxiety etc, from the headaches.

Again, I am a normal person who loves hockey, but to see what the game has become, and the end result of the violence allowed on the ice. The worst is the fact, that most sports teams are still in the dark as far as recognizing the health risks associated with many sports. The rule book must be re:written.

Right now, I am at a loss of what to do, and who to turn to for help. Many night, I lose countless hours of sleep, thinking of what will happen, and am I doing the right thing. There are so many people who prefer to put a paper bag over their head and ignore the fact that Stephen or so many players suffer from these injuries. But, the injuries just don’t stop there, as the emotional, financial, and in some cases, physical injuries suffered by family members. I am living the nightmare of the movie “Concussion”,

I honestly have no idea where to take this, other that keep trying to tell the story, and maybe others won’t feel so lonely, like they are on a deserted island.

He is so mad at me, that it has come to yelling at me, making threats, etc, as really, I was/am the only person left in his life trying to help, as many just look at him, as just another person on the the street, and bum dumpster diving for food.

John, I am open to anything that may bring this into into the open, so people can see what hockey is breeding. And where many of it’s players end up. it is so sad that Stephen had his own cheering section in Washington, but now, many of his fans have now idea or care what he is doing.




NOV. 13, 2017: Walter responds to John’s request for permission to publish the messages he has sent about Stephen.


I personally would not have a problem with that. Fact is, I feel like I am the one who has failed my son, as I feel I have has the ability to fix anything. This is something I struggle with everyday. I will admit I have tears in my eyes as I respond to this, as Stephen is texting me right now, begging for money. Says he can hardly lift his arms, as he is so weak, starving, cold, but still blames me for all that has happened to him. Some days, I find this whole nightmare like a bad dream, wishing I could wake up, and it was all over.

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My God this is tough to read.

I feel so terrible for them and hope that they get the help they're so desperate for.  Just doesn't seem right that players are left in this state and that poor father has to cope with this.  My good God, someone needs to intervene.

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man what a sad ongoing saga

this story, and others like it, need to be made public

so thanks for the initial story and the update


we as fans are short sighted and largely ignorant about the long term consequences of fighting related head injuries

we relish in the performance when it happens on the ice in front of us

something pretty basic in us seems to be triggered

but what we fail to observe is the trauma being exacted on each other by the combatants

and because the impact does not surface for a period of time .. we ignore that aspect of the fight


if more stories that come forward

many fans will realize the total cost of fighting

and will discourage these ongoing displays

and protest to the team and league if these are not stopped


edit: as an aside, i wrote to the nhl, after the concussion issue / head injury issue that was starting to be more heavily discussed, asking specifically about the repeated blows daniel sedin received at the hands of marchand in the 2011 playoffs, and asked how that could be condoned given the head injury information that was now available.  i never did receive any reply  this father who has a much deeper interest in that issue, as his son has service time in the nhl, is also ignored (apparently).  it is no wonder lawyers are retained and required in order to get some sore of meaningful and respectful response.


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  • 2 weeks later...


Father says Stephen is living on B.C. streets and could be close to death



Walter Peat says his son is living on the streets of B.C.'s Fraser Valley and suffering from symptoms common to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of concussion-related brain injury. He says Stephen is using drugs and could be close to death. 

The Decline

According to Walter Peat, his son started to change after his playing career ended. He says Stephen lost the ability to focus, which was out of character for a man known to have the patience to rebuild a motorcycle engine on his own. 

"His forgetfulness, his deterioration in his mindset, it slowly changed to the point where, right now, he's just a very different person," said Peat.

It was that lack of focus that Walter Peat says led to a life-changing moment. The family home burnt to the ground. Walter Peat says his son had become distracted by a phone call while working with a blow torch. Stephen Peat was charged and eventually pleaded guilty to arson by negligence and given a year of probation. 

Since that incident, things seem to have spiralled even further out of control. Stephen Peat has breached the terms of his probation on a number of occasions and spent time in prison. Walter Peat has a court protection order against him after incidents he says turned violent. 

"My relationship with my son has gone south ... I still love him, and I'm sure he still loves me, but the point is that I have to look after myself," Peat said. 

"If you combine ... his frustration of dealing with the headaches and then throw in self-medicating together, that's a recipe for disaster."

An Alarming Call

Because Stephen Peat is restricted from contacting his dad due to the protection order, Walter Peat gets only sporadic updates. The latest call he received from an old friend was alarming. 

"He told me that he'd heard that Stephen was in downtown Langley, walking around, covered with blood, his pants down around his ankles," Peat said.

"I thought, 'Holy $&!#. Someone's either beat him up or he's close to dead,' and my heart sank.

"But I do realize that at some point in time, this nightmare's going to end one way or the other ... either he's going to get fixed or he's going to die."

Disappointment in the NHL and WHL

Walter Peat says his son was known for having an ear-to-ear smile whenever he was playing hockey. But during his second year in the NHL, the smile started the fade. Peat says the NHL has not supported his son through this difficult part of his life.

"The NHL, they just take, take, take," he said. 

"You got a player who was your employee, you'd think they'd jump to the forefront and say, "What do you need?'"

Walter Peat is particularly critical of the major junior Western Hockey League, saying the lack of pay and safety considerations for child players is objectionable.

"They get paid $300 to $400 a month for cash ... plus room and board, and these owners ... are making money hand over fist," he said. 

"I would suggest ... it's borderline child slavery. [The owners] are condoning long-term and, possibly, fatal injuries to players. "


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