Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon, Getty Images
After last night’s shootout win over the Minnesota Wild, Mark Howard interviewed Jordin Tootoo asking him the normal spat of questions about shutting down the Wild and whether or not Tootoo tipped in the goal, but the most poignant question came when Howard asked how Tootoo felt about his game and his life on the eve of his being one year clean and sober…
With aplomb and a hint of self-reliance, Jordin Tootoo, wearing his Team Tootoo hat answered flatly to Howard’s question with a resounding response of how great it’s been to have moved past that point of his life and how his game and mindset have changed since his voluntary leave to enter the NHL’s substance abuse program.
It has been widely stated that Tootoo’s mother gave him a certain book in 2010 that may have urged Tootoo to take stock of his life and the direction it was going. That book was the autobiography of Theo Fluery entitled “Playing With Fire” which follows the life and times and darkest moments of Fluery’s lifestyle and battle with substance and alcohol abuse that shortened what would have been a Hall-of-Fame career. Whether or not this book became the impetus for Tootoo deciding to enter the program is debatable but what isn’t up for debate is the hard lesson Tootoo had to face in dealing with the overwhelming tragedy of losing his brother.
In August of 2002, Jordin’s older brother Terance committed suicide in the aftermath of an awaiting charge of drunk driving (He was 22). Terance played hockey like his younger brother and enjoyed junior hockey success being named Rookie of the Year for his club: The OCN Blizzard.
A realization by Jordin Tootoo to quit an approach to life that may lead him down similar paths of destruction, Tootoo decided on December, 26 2010 to enter the NHL substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program…and it has been an amazing story since.
Before going into the program, Tootoo in 32 games of the 2010-2011 season had amassed 4 goals and 6 assists. Upon his return on February 19, 2011 Tootoo would go on to tally 4 more goals and 4 assists: tying Tootoo’s career best for a season at 18 points.
In the playoffs of 2010-2011, Tootoo would shine brighter than any playoff series before by scoring 1 goal and 5 assists, putting him in the top five on the team in scoring during the Anaheim/Vancouver series.
Already this season, Jordin Tootoo has been a force on the ice. His style of play gets under the skin of opponents and has led to key power plays that Nashville has taken full advantage. Even Tootoo has scored a PP goal this year, the third of his career. Another sign of Tootoo’s ability is that in just 35 games this season, Tootoo has 6 goals, 10 assists and 16 points…just 2 shy of his career high for a season with 45 games left to play. Tootoo is on pace to shatter his career best by a projected 20 points.
In interviews during News Channel 2’s special series on him or post-game, Tootoo seems like a newly made man. He has the excitement and energy like some of the rookies on the Predators roster but also employs a stoic knowing attitude that he appreciates the direction he has taking over the last year.
It has been a great year for Tootoo, not just his success on the ice but his success off the ice is a thing of inspiration. Team Tootoo, the Nashville Predators and the fans of Jordin Tootoo are much appreciative of the scrappy Inuit who fights just as hard in life as he does against his on-ice opponents.