Panthers goalie opens up about his mental health battles

September 17, 2023  (1:06 PM)

The young and highly-touted goaltender Spencer Knight put his career on pause for a long period of last season when he begun spending time in the NHL's Player Assistance Program last February. When Knight entered the program, his reasons for doing so weren't made public. Now, Knight revealed the reasons himself.

In an interview with The Hockey News, Knight unfolded the reasons for his departure, disclosing that he was battling Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and seeking treatment so he continue his career in a greater degree of comfort.
His issues began during his first season at Boston College in 2019. In his interview, Knight detailed that he began to wash his hands excessively, a behaviour that seemed extremely necessary but could not explain the reasoning behind it. His mental health came to a boiling point during a game in Winnipeg. After falling ill and being pulled from the net during game, Knight's was consumed by negative thoughts about the illness. Knight started to lose his ability to sleep at night, and then followed with lapses of focus in games.
With Knight on the sidelines watching his team's run all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, he had plenty of time to reflect.
Knight missed the Panthers' entire run to the Stanley Cup Final, during that time reflecting on his own condition, and working to lessen the effect of the problems.
«One of the feelings you get when something like this happens is that you just let everyone down,»
Knight told the Hockey News. «I never wanted to feel like a burden.»
Knight worked closely with experts in OCD and had conversational sessions with others who had OCD effect their lives, and now feels much more equipped to face problems brought on by the disorder that are out of his control. He understands that he's able to handle uncertainty that will come with returning to professional goaltending after time away, and that his time in the Player Assistance Program will lead him to become a better goaltender.
«I can still be the player I want to be, and I still believe I can be one of the best goalies in this league,» said Knight. «Maybe it's this year, maybe it's next year, maybe it's in three years or four years or five years. I don't know. I know what I'm capable of accomplishing. It was there before and it has been there the whole time.»

The 13th overall pick from the 2019 draft has spent parts of three seasons with the Panthers. Knight had his GAA balloon to 3.18 and save percentage grow to .901, while sporting a 9-8-1 record last season.
Selected 13th overall by the Panthers in the 2019 draft, Knight has spent three partial seasons with the NHL club at just 22 years old. In 21 games last season, Knight put up a 9-8-3 record with a 3.18 GAA, and a .901 save percentage. He will join the Panthers for training camp this week, and is expected to compete for the backup position behind Sergei Bobrovsky for the upcoming season.
Panthers goalie opens up about his mental health battles

Which young goalie will have the best career in the NHL?

Spencer Knight6927 %
Yaroslav Askarov4919.1 %
Dustin Wolf5923 %
Devon Levi7930.9 %
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