True greatness is bestowed on very few people.

The Two-Time Defending Champion Tampa Bay Lightning Hockey Club’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is truly great. How great? When I typed out Vasilevskiy, spell check already knew the correct spelling of Vasy’s last name. Kinda like when you type in Obama or Putin. When one become famous or infamous, for whatever reason, that is what happens.

Vasilevskiy is the Lightning’s goaltender. He is widely considered the greatest goaltender in the world by hockey experts.

As you may know, I am a huge sports and Tampa Bay hockey fan. There are a lot of reasons this is true. However, suffice it to say for now:

  1. Sports is a great vehicle for observing, coaching, and learning life lessons.
  2. The Lightning are an organization of excellence.
  3. Hockey is the most exciting sport.

Andrei Vasilevskiy is 27 years old and was born in Tyumen, Russia. Besides being called “Vasy” by his teammates and fan, he also has the nickname “The Big Cat”. He is 6’3” tall, weighs 225 lbs. and is as quick and flexible as a cat. He is a magnificent athlete. By all accounts he is tremendously focused, disciplined and competitive. And he is a human being.

Notice I wrote human being – not human doing. I crated an entire blog about the distinction which you can peruse here if you like:

Regardless of how well somebody does, how much money they make, if they become famous enough that spell check already knows the correct spelling of their unusual name—we all are human BEINGS!

People suffer mentally for a variety of reasons and respond to stress and challenges in many different ways. But respond they do. Some people suffer so much they end up succumbing to suicide. This is the ultimate manifestation of the very real disease of depression.

If you have any doubt that depression knows no socio-economic bounds, all you have to consider are these three beautiful humans who took their own lives: Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, and Kate Spade. Unfortunately, I have personally known more than 20 people who have ended their own lives. I almost did, too. Plus, most people are being tempted by, and participating in, “slow suicide”.

One thing I am more passionate about than sports, it is helping people become more free and at peace with their mental health.

People who are suffering often give you clues. Not always but often. Some will obviously abuse themselves and the others in their lives. Some will openly discuss that they are struggling or considering suicide as an option. But almost ALL are sending distress signals. Sometimes they can be quite subtle. You can become adept at picking up on these clues. If you have people in your life you care for, I would suggest you pay attention. You just may help them begin to walk in freedom mentally and emotionally.

When people are feeling stressed-out, depressed, in a funk, or “out-of-control”, they often manifest certain tell-tale signs. One is cutting their hair off (or change its color). I have seen it hundreds of times.

Which brings us back to Andrei Vasilevskiy. As pictured here, he recently cut his long flowing locks completely off. Now I have NO idea why he did this. He may have just been tired of having long hair. People cut their hair all the time. I do not know if Vasy is suffering mentally. However, I don’t know how he couldn’t be. After all, he is a human being. We human being ALL suffer especially mentally (but as I said before, not always). When things are going “well” with ourselves or those who we care about, sometimes we don’t notice the nuance clues they are giving out.

We have no idea exactly what is happening with “the world’s greatest goalie” or why he cut his hair.

However, here is what we do know. He is married with a young son. They are all Russian. We know what that country’s dictator is doing to Ukraine, Russia and the world. Who is responsible for this besides Vladimir Putin? It is arguable. But it is definitely NOT Andrei Vasilevskiy, the other Russian players on the Lightning or in hockey or the Russian people around the world. Some lifelong Russian-Americans are getting death threats for God sakes! This needs to stop, immediately!

Could this situation stress-out Tampa Bay’s world class athlete so much it would affect his performance and cause him to subconsciously try to grasp at some control in his life and cut his hair off? Of course, it could. But who knows?

Again, here is something else we do know. Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Vasy’s play and that of his fellow Russian teammates and the team in general, really suffered. He cut his hair off after a particularly uncharacteristically poor performance and loss to Pittsburgh. He then lost three games while only winning once during a recent stretch. He slammed his goalie stick—something I don’t think I have ever seen him do. Very “un-Vasy” like.

Did this all happens because of the stress he feels about what is happening in his homeland? Who knows? He may not even know? Is it plausible? Absolutely.

So, what is a Lightning hockey fan to do? This one, with the help of my friend Katherine Ward, started the “WE LOVE OUR BOYS” media campaign to make sure our Russian players, Vasy, Nikita Kucherov and MikhaIl Sergechev and Russian people all over the world know we love them and do not lop them in with what it going on because a very deranged, control-freak, manifestly suicidal world leader. You may have seen me post about it.

Did it make a difference? Who knows? But here is what we do know.

The Communications Director of the Lightning, who I was in touch with, personally showed the guys what we were doing. The next game was that night. Nikita Kucherov, the Bolts all-world Russian forward, scored his first goal in eight games. Vasy played in his usual stellar fashion. And Tampa Bay beat Seattle, 4-1.

Did our efforts help the team? Who knows? But here is what we done know. It sure didn’t hurt.  

If Vasy needs to talk to someone, I hope he is getting that help. And I hope you have people in your life you can talk to and I also hope you start being more aware of the signs of the human beings in your life who are alerting you they need assistance.

If I can help you or anyone you know, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email is: and my cell is: 813-363-9545. The national suicide hotline is: 8 –0273-8255.

Love you!

7 Responses

  1. This was a beautiful post! So much of what was in it is very true. We must stay strong in these unprecedented times and hope and pray that this war comes to an end very quickly. We should be so grateful for what we have! God Bless !🙏🏻

  2. Excellent article. Fans forget that the players are all human beings. The stigma of being in counseling has lessened over the years, but I think it’s important that people realize it’s a positive, not a negative.

  3. Vasey, Sergie, Kuch, we love you and in no way associate you with what your home country is doing now. You 3 are great and honorable men. Stay strong and know you are loved.


  4. I applaud & fully back what you & Katherine are doing to support our boys! Been a Bolts fan since the very beginning & this is an amazing show of support when they need it most. I cannot fathom the stress they are under knowing family could possibly be in danger. The Russian people are as much victims of this terrible dictator as all of those he is targeting. Hoping all teams are offering extra support & assistance to the players who are being affected by this travesty & we, as Bolts fans, continue to LOVE OUR BOYS! ⚡️💙⚡️ Thank you Glenn & Katherine for making sure they know they are loved!

  5. Yes! We love our boys and our thoughts and prayers are with them and their extended family and friends. I’m sure it’s taking its toll. I can’t even try to imagine what they are going through. Tampa Bay loves our boys, win or lose
    your still the best.

  6. It’s so sad that our Russian players are being threatened. They are awesome athletes and not involved in politics at all. They need to know that the Lightning fans love them and their families.

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