Facing mental health issues at the rink


Nick Salaris has been coaching minor hockey for almost 10 years. He’s never had to worry about the mental health of one of his players.
But that all changed last week after the death of 16 year-old Connor Newport. Although he wasn’t part of the Petrolia Minor Hockey Association, Newport was a close friend to many of the young men on his team including Salaris’ son. And it hit them hard.
Salaris admits as a coach and a parent he felt “kind of helpless” in the face of death by suicide and the mental health issues surrounding it. “I struggled with what is right and what is wrong way to react,” he told The Independent.  But he’s learned there is no right or wrong as long as you’re supportive of the kids who are suffering.
How to support them may become a little clearer. PMHA is one of seven hockey associations to partner with St. Clair Child and Youth in Faceoff for Mental Health. It is an awareness campaign for coaches and parents involved in minor hockey.
On Nov. 18, 19  and 20, St. Clair Child and Youth will be at the Petrolia arena talking to kids about what help is available if they need it.
The teams will be given green tape for their sticks as a sign of support for those with mental health issues.
Salaris thinks coaches are in a unique place to help. “The head coach, the bench staff, they get to know that kid…they are people who are together a lot and we may be able to pick up on thing others might miss.”
And Salaris hopes by raising awareness about mental health issues, it might help avoid tragedy in the future.


  1. Mental Health is being sick on the inside and you can’t see the brokenness. Take it to the one who created you & you will find resolution.

Comments are closed.