In an interview with Henrik Sjoberg of HockeyNews.se, Calgary Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington said he is ready to return for the 2023-24 season after battling “mental and psychological problems” last season.
The 26-year-old missed all of 2022-23 while working on his health.
“These are things that have been going on in the family for many years but which escalated to become worse and there were mental and psychological problems I suffered from,” Kylington said, translated from Swedish.
“The way I took care of my problems made me feel very bad,” he added. “I almost hit a wall and it got to a point that it was enough.”
Among the treatments Kylington received last year was cognitive-behavioral therapy. He also worked on trying to become more open talking about his struggles, calling it a sign of strength.
“It was definitely a fear to share things that are so close to one’s heart. … I do not want to go into details about what happened, but it was a great shame I had to talk about things like this. Society is programmed not to display negative emotions,” Kylington said. “People think it’s not OK to feel bad. I used escape behaviors when things get in front of one’s face because it’s the easiest way out. I quickly understood that when you dare to show yourself vulnerable to other people, you really get closer to people.
Kylington had a career-best season in 2021-22, scoring nine goals and 31 points. His role was expected to increase with the Flames last year, but he elected to stay home to focus on his mental well-being. The Flames originally announced he would miss training camp, with no timeline for a return.
Kylington said he’s excited to return to the Flames, a team that has had one of the more interesting offseasons. The Flames traded Tyler Toffoli, with multiple others – including Elias Lindholm, Noah Hanifin and Mikael Backlund – all expected to not sign new deals with the club next summer. The Flames missed the postseason in 2022-23.
“I love to play hockey and that’s all I want to do, (and) I’m happy now (to be) feeling better and I can focus on the right things,” the defenceman said. “I’m doing really well right now and I’m looking forward to a new season.”
Kylington has spent his entire NHL career with the Flames since getting drafted 60th overall in 2015. He has one year left on his contract worth $2.5 million, and will become a UFA next summer.