Tanski talks: A message of hope from Stingrays' forward

Since beginning his ECHL career with Orlando in 2012-13, Scott Tanski has been a productive player on the ice, scoring at least 10 goals in four of his five seasons. But, it’s been the difference he has made off the ice where he is leaving a lasting impact.

Tanski has been at the forefront of raising awareness of mental health issues through his “Tanski Talks” program. He began the effort after meeting former NHL player Luke Richardson and his wife Stephanie, whose 14-year-old daughter, Daron, committed suicide in 2010. Tanski was motivated to help end the stigma of mental health issues, and thus, “Tanski Talks” was born.

“I was really inspired by the DIDF (Do It For Daron) Foundation and watching how the family came together, I really wanted to do something to help,” Tanski said. “As we spent time together, I started to see what I could do to help spread awareness.”

In 2015 while with the Solar Bears, Tanski designed a t-shirt to sell at the team’s home games to help raise funds and awareness. He found a willing partner in the Solar Bears’ organization.

“Orlando was a great starting point for the program since I had been there since day one when the team started,” he said. “We had a great following with the fans, so that didn’t take much effort at all. The front office was great in rallying behind the cause as well and assisting me in spreading the word.”

Tanski has spent the last two seasons in two different cities, playing for Reading in 2015-16 and South Carolina this season, but he has been able to carry on the message of mental health awareness without missing a beat.

“Reading made everything easy as well last season,” Tanski said. “We had a great player-branding person there in the front office who really helped out on the PR side of things and was a huge help in getting things done.

“All of the front offices I have worked with have been a big asset,” he continued. “There are people put in place in organizations to let my creative side run wild and are determined to help bring the cause to the forefront.”

In his stops around the ECHL, Tanski has also made it a mission to get out in the community to meet with people to deliver his message firsthand.

“Especially when I was in Orlando and Reading, I was able to speak to a lot of people and apart from donations, it’s really raising awareness about mental health issues. I want to let youths knows that there doesn’t need to be a stigma behind mental illness and that there are people here to help.”

Tanski will host his first “Tanski Talks” program with the Stingrays on Friday, and he has found willing partners in the locker room.

“This team is probably the tightest group of guys I’ve ever been around, both the players and coaches,” he said. “As soon as they found out about the program they all got on board and donated money and bought t-shirts. The wives and girlfriends are also getting involved as well to do their part and will be selling shirts to fans during the game.”

Not only have his teammates in the ECHL been supportive, but the Richardson family has been a big part of the program as well.

“They are a big part of helping to spread the word in Ottawa, and I wanted to do the same in the United States and the ECHL,” Tanski said. “I’m always bouncing ideas off of them and they’ve been supportive of what I am doing with the program.”

For those fans who would like to purchase a “Tanski Talks” t-shirt to help in the fight against mental health issues, visit the Stingrays’ website at https://south-carolina-stingrays.myshopify.com/collections/mens/products/tanski-talks-jersey-tee-supporting-mental-health-awareness