TMSG: How a hockey player found his zen with a four-legged friend

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WLNS) – Not so long ago, speaking publicly about issues like anxiety, stress, depression or mental health was pretty much taboo for athletes who often felt internal or societal pressure. to keep these problems to themselves.

Fortunately, times are changing.

It was in mid-February that Erik Bradford, who had just been sent back to Kalamazoo after a two-month stint with the Grand Rapids Griffins, began to suffer from what he described as anxiety over to his professional future.

“I was struggling mentally. Every day I would go to the rink and look in the mirror and think you have to give it your all or you’ll be sent away with injuries and everything, the uncertainty about the Where you play, when is your next contract, it can be mentally taxing,” Bradford said.

So Bradford, who had gone through a similar period of anxiety after undergoing knee surgery a few years ago, decided he needed to see a familiar face. Her 2-year-old border collie cash, who lived with her parents in Ontario.

“It’s nice to have someone to come back to who’s really happy to be with you and have his dad. I think it’s allowed me to find that kind of zen. To get away from the reality, I got it pretty good, I think the most important thing is to watch it and realize it’s not that bad,” Bradford said.

Bradford found his zen and the back of the net consistently, scoring 18 points in the first 20 games after Cash’s arrival.

In fact, since March 5, the day the money returned to Kalamazoo, the Griffins immediately won seven of their next eight games and 13 of 19 overall to get back into playoff contention.

“He lived alone in an apartment with no one to talk to. Getting the dog really helped him. When the money came back, he (Bradford) really took it to the next level,” Bradford teammate Justin Murray said.

“Mental health is important, we talk about it. The fact that he admitted it and had these conversations with people is exciting. Him spending time with this dog, if it’s helpful, we love it. He’s had the dog at the rink before and it’s pretty exciting to see that,” Bradford coach Nick Bootland said.

Catherine J. Martinez