Ex-Leaf Kurtis Gabriel reveals troubling diagnosis

Matt Garland
April 23, 2024  (1:28)

Kurtis Gabriel
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowski - USA Today Sports

Former NHL forward Kurtis Gabriel spent nine years in pros throwing hits and fists. The 6'6 Ontario native was never known for having much of a scoring touch, but he could provide energy, plenty of physicality and always defended his teammates when called upon.

Gabriel last played professionally in the NHL during the 2021-2022 season for the Chicago Blackhawks skating in two games. Gabriel bounced around league, spending time with the Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, San Jose Sharks, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs organizations.
The 31-year-old has been away from the spotlight since his retirement, but took to social media yesterday to update everyone on his life, revealing that he was struck with a troubling diagnosis 14 months ago. Now, he has opened up about his fight with Bipolar Disorder.
"Hello everyone.

Been a while for sure.

Thought would come on here and just address what's going on in my life.

I was diagnosed with the mood disorder Bipolar type 14 months ago now.

A disorder associated with episodes of mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs, or in my case hypomanic highs.

The exact cause of bipolar disorder isn't known, but a combination of genetics, environment, and altered brain structure and chemistry may play role.

Losing my dad at 10 years old to suicide I think plays a major part in this as far as trauma and genetics, as well as the roller coaster career had in hockey, and the hits to head.

It has been a pretty tough at times since and it has wreaked havoc in my personal & professional life.

It was long over due, and it is clear now looking back, that I was struggling with it even early in my professional hockey career.

In fact almost 6 years ago I had someone important in my life and their father bring to my attention I might have this mood disorder, but I did not want to hear it.

I believe the role I played in hockey was as close to a perfect cover up for it as you can find for both myself but others as well. 'He has to be little different to do that job.'

I was used to being told I was so 'passionate' and 'crazy' that I took it as further confirmation of that instead of a serious concern.

I am still trying to come to terms with my diagnosis. Bipolar is not something that can be cured, but it can be managed into remission, and consistently worked at to keep it there.

I have lived a very privileged life, with hockey being my main focus for 13 years from 16-29.

Now just a couple days removed from my 31st birthday, I am looking to work hard at accepting and managing my diagnosis, integrate myself back into society, hopefully spread awareness and help others with Bipolar and other mood disorders along the way.

Don't know how much I am going to post, just throwing this out there."

It was brave and inspiring of Gabriel to share his story. Hopefully this will inspire others to seek help if needed.
We all wish Kurtis all the best as he continues to deal with his diagnosis and adjust to life in recovery.
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Ex-Leaf Kurtis Gabriel reveals troubling diagnosis

Is the league doing enough to ensure players are getting the help they need?

Yes, the league has done plenty to help players4121.8 %
No, individual medical issues are on the players4725 %
I'm sure the league could do more10053.2 %
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