No matter your profession, the coronavirus pandemic and an extended lockdown put a spotlight on mental health issues.
One player who’s been honest about those issues: Bruins winger Chris Wagner. And that continued in his 2021 exit meeting.
“I mean, for me personally, I definitely dealt with anxiety that I’ve never dealt with in my life,” Wagner admitted. “But then talking to guys, you realize that a lot of people are going through that. I mean, the whole world is, realistically, with COVID and stuff.”
Again, this isn’t the first time that Wagner has talked about his off-ice battles this season.
It was earlier this year that Wagner noted that the grind of this season, with players unable to live their life on the road and with it essentially being all hockey all the time, left players to check in on one another to make sure they knew they weren’t alone. Wagner also admitted that he deleted all the social media apps off his phone because they were “bad for the brain.”
It likely didn’t help that Wagner struggled on the ice this season, with just two goals and five points in 41 games, along with a minus-9 rating (second-worst on the Bruins and the second-worst mark of Wagner’s NHL career).
There was little relief to be found, and it never helps when you’re the local player struggling to find your game in your own backyard and with everybody you know watching closely.
“You’ll probably hear about it a little more here,” the Walpole, Mass. native admitted. “I don’t usually get people at Dunkin’ Donuts coming up to me and telling me I suck, or we suck. I only listen to the radio for a couple laughs here and there. I still think there’s more pressure being from here and being around people who want to talk about it when you probably don’t sometimes, but that’s what we sign up for and you just have to deal with it.”
But there’s no doubt that Wagner (and the rest of his B’s teammates) certainly felt a bit closer to normal once the TD Garden reopened its door at near full capacity.
“Having fans back in the building, it made such a big difference, I thought, for everybody mentally,” said Wagner. “It makes it more fun to have that buzz around the city. I missed it so much. It definitely gave me a good taste and I can’t wait for next year to be normal.”
Wagner is entering the second year of a three-year, $4.05 million extension signed in 2019 next year.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.