The Stigma of Seeking Help Within the NHL

Ottawa Senators’ Bobby Ryan met with the media in regards to an alcohol addiction that has prevented him from playing since November. Ryan began the NHL/NHLPA assistance program on November 20th. He says he is doing ‘very well’ on his road to recovery and should return to the lineup within the next 2 weeks.

Ryan admits it is something he had been dealing with for a while and has attempted to deal with on his own before seeking for help. Ryan says the stigma that surrounds asking for help has prevented him in the past from seeking help. In addition, the idea of having to share his struggles with the media caused a delay towards finding help, but he finally realized it was necessary. During his road to recovery, Ryan mentions that other anonymous NHL players who have gone through similar circumstances have reached out to him.

The concept of hegemonic masculinity along with the conformity to a traditional masculine identity explains Ryan’s resistance towards seeking help. There are no doubt others who suffer from alcoholism or other health issues that also resist seeking help. In order to reduce this stigma, it is important for other individuals with public platforms like Bobby Ryan to come forward. This will help not only other professional athletes who are suffering but also other regular individuals.

Bridget M.


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