Former first round pick finds peace doing odd jobs

Pat Quinn
March 14, 2024  (2:20 PM)

Slater Koekkoek and his wife Santana pose for a photo with Faces of Ottawa
Photo credit: Instagram: facesofottawa

Slater Koekkoek last participated in hockey in 2021–22 with the Edmonton Oilers, where he appeared in 19 NHL games before spending two more in the AHL. Not long after that season ended, he retired.

Koekkoek represented Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Edmonton franchises in 186 NHL games. In a recent interview, he talked about his career, problems, and his new career path with Ian Mendes of the Athletic.
Koekkoek talked about his struggles during his NHL career and how he felt like a failure as a professional.
«I've had to do a lot of therapy work toward being proud of that moment [being a first round pick] instead of being ashamed.

I'll start to have negative thoughts about myself and Claude [Tellier] will simply say, ‘Slater, don't go down that road. You made it. You're a success.'»

Now that he has retired from the NHL, Koekkoek expressed gratitude to his therapist, Claude Tellier, for his support. Being an NHL player, he was always afraid to be too personal because there was a chance the coaching staff may learn what he said.
Koekkoek claimed that he read too many nasty pieces on social media and in the mainstream media. He started to developing food disorders and anxiety.
«I lost that self-value that someone believed in me to take me in the first round, I wish I could have kept my swagger."

Would Koekkoek change anything about how his life went?
«Would I have changed anything I have done or that I went through? The answer is no. I've come to a place where I'm grateful for the experiences I went through.»

Once he tried his hand at helping out at a crowded Tim Horton's one day, Koekkoek would perform odd jobs after retiring while trying to come up with a new career for himself. He felt better in a professional setting when he first started working at a friend's restoration company.
«I was hauling out toilets that were 40 years old, but I came home and [my wife] Santana noticed the difference in me. Just in interacting with people and putting in an honest day's work, I felt fulfilled.»

After learning about the labor shortages in other sectors of the economy, he founded a new business called "FFYLwork," which stands for Fulfill Your Life and employs a range of shift workers who are prepared to work.
«I'm trained from the school of YouTube. I'm A-plus as a hard worker. And what I don't know, I'll try and learn, but you probably wouldn't want me doing your crown moulding.

I was just not feeling valued in my position, so I took matters into my own hands to find happiness. It's a little step back from the life I was living before, but it's funny how a sense of purpose and being valued as a team member can really bring happiness — no matter what you're doing.»

As Read On The Athletic - Why a first-round pick walked away from the NHL — and found peace doing odd jobs
As Read On Oilers Daily - Oilers defenceman retires from hockey to work odd jobs odd jobs
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Former first round pick finds peace doing odd jobs

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