When bubble NHL/AHL forward Gemel Smith found himself placed on waivers for the second time in a week, he just couldn’t deal with it. First he’d been waived by the Dallas Stars, then after just three games with the Boston Bruins he was placed on waivers yet again.
“I made myself go to a sunken place,” Smith told Joe Smith of The Athletic in an exclusive interview. “I couldn’t sleep for a month. I felt very alone. I isolated myself from everyone because I’m a guy that keeps to myself.
“That’s where I went wrong — why I should have talked to somebody (who could) help me through it.”
Then… he did talk to someone. Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron picked up on Smith’s depression and encouraged him to reach out for help.
“This is a real common thing,” Bergeron told Smith.
“No one thinks (they) need help,” Smith says now. “I’m really strong mentally, but no one is strong enough, because it affects me in a way, my lifestyle. I wasn’t excited to wake up. I didn’t have anyone.”
“No one wants to get help, and then you finally realize it’s too late.”
In Smith’s case, he was able to pull himself out of depression with renowned sports psychologist Max Offenberger, but it was Bergeron’s ability to read his teammate that ultimately got things started for Smith.
Now, Smith is back to his normal self and he’s pushing hard to make the Tampa Bay Lightning’s opening day roster. For his full story, including more quotes from both Smith and Bergeron, be sure to read the full article below: