July 04, 2012

Brantt Myhres Making Greater Strides

Brantt Myhres played in 154 NHL games. He scored 6 goals and assisted on 2 others. It is his 687 penalty minutes that immediately tell his story.

Including junior and minor pro, Myhres played with 18 different teams in his career. That included NHL stops in Tampa, Philadelphia, Nashville, San Jose, Washington and Boston. In what proved to be his final NHL game - and his only game with the Bruins - he picked up 31 penalty minutes.

Myhres figured he must have fought 300 times in his hockey career. He probably does not remember most of those tussles. But he certainly remembers the last one.

A couple of years after disappearing from Boston and  fighting his way through the minor leagues, Myhres had a chance to come home to Alberta. He was in the Calgary Flames training camp as a long shot invitee. In a pre-season game against Edmonton NHL heavyweight Georges Laraque crushed his face in a few seconds of violence.

"They had to put in a mesh plate to hold the eye in place. They put in mesh rather than titanium, so I could fight again but I didn't want to do it anymore," he said.

"Georges called me after the fight to see how I was doing, which was nice of him, and he apologized, but I remember saying, 'Georges, are you kidding me? This is part of the game.' I would have done the same if I could have," said Myhres.

Myhres returned to the ice in January 2006 with the Flames AHL farm team in Omaha, but he would never fight again. He still played hard, but refused to fight.

"I did get four goals, though. For once in my life I thought I was a scorer," laughed Myhres.

Sadly, once word got out that he would no longer fight, the job offers stopped too. He tried extending his career over in Europe, but he was even expected to fight there. He was soon released, and out of hockey.

Do I even miss playing? I don't know. My dad asked me when was the last time I actually got a chance to play the game without worrying about fighting. I told him I guess back in midget hockey," said Myhres. "Part of me still likes to watch a good hockey fight, but part of me hates it."

Sadly, Myhres biggest fight of his life was a direct result of hockey, even though it was not on the ice. Partly to help him deal with fighting, Myhres turned to alcohol at an early age. Once he left the game, he was able to quit drinking, too.

“(Addiction) almost took my life a couple times and it shortened my NHL career by probably five years,” said Myhres.

Now Myhres is trying to help aboriginal kids avoid the pitfalls of alcohol and other demons that often plague Canadian reserves. He created the Greater Strides hockey program into Aboriginal communities in 2010. His long-term vision is to build a school that will house the top 50 Aboriginal student athletes in Canada.

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