Goaltenders. By the very nature of their choice of professions, most people would readily apply the label CRAZY to them. Who in their right mind would willingly strap on some padding and then place themselves willingly between the goal and someone armed with a stick made out of some high tech material designed to allow the maximum velocity to be transferred to a roughly 6 ounce piece of frozen rubber, fired directly at them?
So, knowing the history of the event that forever changed Clint Malarchuk’s life on March 22, 1989 during a game in Buffalo, between the St. Louis Blues and Malarchuk’s, Buffalo Sabres when the Blues Ron Tuttle and Sabres defenseman Uwe Krupp became entangled and Tuttle’s skate carved a gash in Malarchuk’s neck. For the sake of full disclosure, I am a Buffalo native and have been a life-long Sabres fan and I thought I knew the whole story; I could not have been further away from the whole story that Malarchuck details in his book, A Matter of Inches – How I Survived in the Crease and Beyond.
I knew that the title A Matter of Inches, was quite literal; that Malarchuk came close to become a casualty of the game he grew up playing, but I didn’t realize that if he had been minding the goal at the other end of the rink, he would likely have died. The help and the access to those that saved his life that night was literally at his end of the rink, saving precious seconds when they mattered most.
Malarchuk provides not only a refresh of memories, of that event, but delves deeply into his early and ongoing struggles with depression, mental illness and alcoholism during the course of this raw, gut wrenching tale. Some may be put off by the manner that Malarchuk tells his story, but he truly pulls no punches and holds nothing back as he takes us into the locker room, into his life and into his mind. He displays a level of courage and honesty in the writing that is strikingly personal. Hockey fan or not, you will find this one utterly entertaining.