I was at work all day and unable to pass this story along earlier. That's too bad, because this, as James Mirtle has already stated, really is must read material.
The Globe and Mail's Allan Maki tells us much of the story of Walt Poddubny. He never woke up on Saturday, dying at the young age of 49.
He was far from the most skilled player. He had adequate size and a good burst of speed to find open space. He had a nose for the net, too, as he exploded for 40, 38 and 38 goal seasons to close out the 1980s. Devastating knee injuries slowed him down and eventually forced him out of the game just before hockey's big money era.
It turns out Poddubny's story after the NHL is quite sad. He tried to stay in the game, partly for financial reasons but mostly because he could never deal with the game being taken away from him. But after mixed results coaching in the low minor leagues, he returned home to Thunder Bay and has been living in his sister's basement. He lost his marriage and found friendship in the form of the bottle.
His story is probably not completely uncommon, especially amongst the many players who are forgotten about not long after they have left the ice if not earlier.
Poddubny seemed to be reaching out for help, talking with the Globe and Mail columnist. The two agreed to meet in the off season and work out some sort of project. Poddubny wanted to tell his story, presumably so others would not have to go through it.
Unfortunately, Poddubny found a way to have his story heard loud and clear.