In professional hockey, it only takes one dirty hit to change your life. For Dave Scatchard, that hit also changed his death. In his new book, The Comeback: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell, he details the near-death experience that led him to quit hockey, heal his body and his soul, and dedicate his life to helping others.

On Author Hour today, he talks about the balance between wearing protective armor and being vulnerable, why the years of feeling broken were actually worth it and exactly, what happened during those 10 minutes when he was unconscious and outside of his own body.

Hi, Author Hour listeners, I’m here today with Dave Scatchard, author of The Comeback: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell. Dave, thank you so much for being with us today.

Dave Scatchard: Yeah, thanks for having me. I’m very excited to be here and can’t wait to get going.

Jane Stogdill: You were by all accounts a successful hockey player in the NHL. You sustained several injuries over your career but then one of them finally made you walk away. Can you tell us what happened?

Dave Scatchard: Yeah. In the process of writing the book, I spent some time and wrote down each of the injuries that I sustained over my career. Looking back on it and seeing the words on the page, I couldn’t really believe how many injuries I had overcome and played through, including 12 broken noses and broken bones in my face and my knuckles, my hands and my forearms and both of my knees, and three shoulder surgeries, and three ankle surgeries. And, you know, the injury that ended it for me was my fifth concussion and we actually had some micro hemorrhaging happening in my brain.

There was some bleeding and it really just ended my ability to perform or to remember anything or to function in society. I went from having a photographic memory as a young boy and through school to having no memory and being on Alzheimer’s medication. I actually had a near-death experience during the fifth injury. That’s kind of the cheeky way of talking about the book and the comeback because it’s not just a comeback from my NHL career but, it’s a comeback from heaven back to here and sort of the journey that I’ve been on since.

It’s kind of a sneak attack in the book, and I hope I didn’t spoil it for anybody, but it’s quite the rollercoaster journey that I’ve been through. I feel like I’ve lived five lives already but things are different now, my second go around here on earth and I’ve completely changed my perspective on almost every single thing. 

My Near-Death Experience in The Place Beyond

Jane Stogdill: Can you share a little bit more about the near-death experience?

Dave Scatchard: You’re going to have to buy the book to find out. No, I’m just kidding. What happened was, I was knocked unconscious with this dirty hit on the ice and I was actually kind of awake for the first few seconds of it and then I just completely went unconscious. As I did, I began to leave my body and start to be able to see my body from above. It’s like a weird thing you would see in a movie or hear in a movie or something. I was literally leaving my body and I started to see the paramedics begin to work on me and putting me on a spinal board. They’re a little worried that I might have broken my neck from the hit and then my trainer was there.

I just started leaving and it was the weirdest experience ever and I was watching people work on me and then I literally just went into this black space for a while. I wasn’t really scared but I was kind of confused and I’m like, “What’s going on?” Then, when that ended and when it opened up into this other space, I knew instantly that it was like— you can’t even imagine how beautiful the light is and the feeling is of heaven. I was so confused, I didn’t know what was going on but yet, there was this sense of calm and this message to me that everything was going to be okay, that I was going to be protected, that I’m safe now, and that I’m home now.

It felt like this light was just pure unconditional love, the most beautiful love you could ever imagine in your life. I’ve never felt anything like it and it just took my breath away and I just basked in it. As I was basking in it, the light was just pouring into me but it was actually like exploding out of me at the same time, which was such a crazy experience.

I felt like I was detached. I felt like I was finally free. I felt completely expansive. I felt so light. It was like floating in water but times a million. It was just like, there’s nothing holding me back, I was completely free. I felt like, if I were to breathe, I could just breathe one breath for as long as I wanted out and as long as I wanted in. It was just pure freedom and peace. There’s no worry, there was no doubt and there was no burden, there was no fear, there was nothing. It was just pure love. For the first three minutes, I literally didn’t say anything, I didn’t question anything. I was just feeling this incredible feeling that I didn’t even believe was possible. Yeah, it was pretty wild.

Jane Stogdill: That sounds great and that’s incredible, what a gift. Thank you for kind of trying to explain that to us. You decided to come back to your body— or you come back to your body— and then the next weeks and months are incredibly difficult. Can you take us through some of that?

Dave Scatchard: Yeah, I think I need to go and finish off a little bit about what happened up there first.

Jane Stogdill: Please.

Dave Scatchard: These messages, I would start to think a question and then the message answer would be right back to me, almost before I got the whole question formulated. Like “Where am I? What am I doing here?” There’s a fraction of flickering thing that felt like I didn’t deserve this much love, you know? Then, it was almost just like reassurance that, “Yes, you do and you’re here with me.”

I didn’t really see a presence but the light was holding me at one point like I was a small child and was brushing my hair almost, pulling it back from my face, and just kept whispering like, “Everything’s going to be okay. I’m so happy you’re here. I love you and I’m so proud of you.” All these amazing things and then the only negative thing for the 10 minutes that I was unconscious was I had this flash. I was walking with the light and I was like a little child. I was holding the light’s hand and the light was just guiding me somewhere. 

I’ve done a couple of other podcasts and people are like, maybe you’re walking into heaven and into the pearly gates or whatever. I don’t know where I was going but I knew that I was being guided to the next place.

I had this weird flash and it was crazy. It was my one-year-old, my two-year-old boys and my daughter who was four, dressed in black and my wife was crying at my funeral. My casket was being slowly lowered down into the grave and the gravedigger was throwing dirt on it as it was starting to be lowered down.

My wife was crying, my kids were all crying and my littlest guy, Sawyer— the one-year-old— ran and just flopped on the casket, hugging the casket, and then the gravedigger was throwing dirt on the casket. [It] was hitting my little guy. He was dressed in this little black suit, I just froze and I just said, “God”, I said, “I don’t know if I can go.” The message back to me was, “They’ll be okay. I’ll take care of them, everything’s going to be okay.”

I’m like, “They’re so little, I can’t imagine growing up without a dad.” And the message back to me was, “It’s okay, they’ll be okay. I always take care of everything.” I’m like, “Yeah, I know but they’re really little” and I could see them crying and I just had to stop. I stopped walking and I just said, “Look, can I go back?” The message to me was, “Well, you can, but you don’t have to. It’s okay, everything’s going to be okay. You’re home now.” and I’m like, “Yeah, but I think I need to go back.” And I sort of have this dialogue where I’m like, “Well, what does it look like if I go back? How do I go back? Is it possible?”.

The message to me was, “Yes, you can go back but you don’t have to.” I finally chose to go back, which is one of the hardest decisions of my life because I was in pure perfection and love and freedom and peace and tranquility and ecstasy at the same time. And I chose to come back. As I chose to come back, as soon as I really wished that, I said two things. I said, “Do you want me to go sell all my worldly possessions and go on a mission trip or something? Because I know you’re real.” I didn’t grow up in religion or church or anything, so this is kind of mind-blowing to me.

He’s almost like laughing and he’s like, “No, what I want you to do is I want you to take this love and this light that you feel here and I want you to take that back with you, and I want you to shine that into the life of every person you come across the rest of your life. I want you to love them like they’re your brother, love them like they’re your sister. That’s it.”

I said, “Oh my God, if that’s all I have to do, I think I can do that.” And he’s like— God definitely has a sense of humor. Then the second thing, right before I was about to leave, I said, “Is there anything else? Just tell me what to do and I’ll go do it.” He said, “Well, I’d like you to share the story with the world,” and I never did. I was so worried originally about what people would think and think that I’m crazy or something that I couldn’t share it and I didn’t even tell my wife for like a year and a half.

I’d had a couple of bottles of wine with a friend of mine— Matthias Owen, who’s a hockey player— and he was the first. I told him, he said, “That’s amazing, you need to tell everybody, you need to write this story!” That was about five years ago. 

We’re finally here and the funny thing was, when I came back into my body for about 30 seconds— while I was in the ambulance, outside the hospital and they cut off all my hockey equipment to work on me— I was still blissed out and I still couldn’t feel my body. I was trying to talk to the paramedics, I’m like, “Oh my goodness, did you guys see that? Was that not the most amazing thing?” They’re looking at me and my jaws dislocated and my collar bone’s broke, my ribs are broke, my nose is broke, I’m bleeding all over the place and my equipment’s all cut off of me and they just said, “Sir, you’ve been in an accident. You’re outside the hospital. Please don’t talk, please don’t say anything. We’re going to do an MRI on your brain and on your neck.” The funny thing was is like, I slowly started to come into my body and after being in that environment of perfection and freedom and lightness, I came into my earthly body here and it was so heavy.

It felt like there was like an elephant sitting on my chest and I felt like I was just suffocating. Honestly, it just got worse over the next three years of my time here on earth, to the point where I almost didn’t think I could stand it anymore and I second-guessed my decision to come back every day.

How The Pain Became My Greatest Gift.

Jane Stogdill: You were really struggling as you mentioned earlier; memory issues, you said you were on Alzheimer’s medicine. You eventually started working with Tony Robbins and several other healers. What was the journey like to come back to a place of comfort and strength?

Dave Scatchard: You know, I hate even saying it because I’m a big performance coach and I coach people now for a living but I wasn’t at that time. I couldn’t work and I couldn’t function. I had trouble pushing my kids on the swing set. I couldn’t teach them how to ride a bike. It literally made me vomit. I was just nauseous, I had headaches all day long. I started drinking myself to sleep to try to numb the pain and that didn’t work. 

It was a nightmare and I felt like I was a burden to my wife and to my kids and to my family. It got to the point where I was mad at God and I was screaming at God saying, “Why are you punishing me? What did I do wrong? I’m a good person.” I started praying for a miracle. I had five properties in three countries and they weren’t little properties, they were luxury properties and because my brain wasn’t working, I was so afraid that I was going to screw something up that I hired a life coach to help me out. 

The life coach ended up asking me, “If you do ever get better, what would you like to do?” and I said, “Well, number one, I like to help people out of suffering. I don’t want anyone to have to suffer like I’ve been suffering with this way of living. It’s devastating and it is killing me right now. And number two, I’d like to help kids and young athletes go to the next level.” That was my original plan and he told me, “Well, you need to go to this leadership training. Tony Robbins puts it on, I think it’s really a good place to start. It is only three days.” 

Driving down to San Diego was a big deal for me because I wasn’t functioning at a very high level. I pulled over the side of the road three times to sleep because it was so stressful for me and it’s only a five-hour drive from Phoenix. I kind of made a deal that if I didn’t see a miracle or two, I didn’t think that I would be able to continue on like this for another 50 or 60 years, for the rest of my life, because I was a pretty young man. I was 36 years old. 

I spent three years at Mayo clinic and the best doctors in the world told me that I was just permanently disabled. They kind of took my hope away for my future. Thankfully, I had a couple of huge miracles at this event. The funny thing was Tony doesn’t even teach those. He has other people teach those even though they are his event, which is hilarious. But it opened me up enough to be able to want to hunt that down and figure out what more of that stuff was. 

After the second miracle I had, I was brushing my teeth in the mirror and God started to speak to me through my own eyes. He said, “I’m so sorry that I had to make you suffer like that in the last three years of your life but in order for you to help the people that are going to be coming your way, you need to understand intimately what depression and anxiety and hopelessness felt like because you’re going to help them get over that.” 

He basically explained that the reason why I had to endure that much pain was so that no matter who comes to me as a coach, in life or business, I could relate to them and I can have a newfound compassion for them as a brother or a sister because I have lived through it and I’ve come out the other side. I have created a beautiful life again but I wouldn’t have that amount of compassion and love for people if I didn’t first experience it deeply. 

The thing that was the worst curse on me, I began thinking was it was my greatest gift. If it wasn’t for the fifth concussion, if it wasn’t for the near-death experience, if it wasn’t for the pain that I endured over the next three years, I wouldn’t be doing the high-level work that I do now. I wouldn’t be changing tens of thousands of people’s lives doing the work that I am now doing. It was perfect. It was all perfectly planned and designed and I just didn’t see it at the time because I was so busy struggling in my own pain and thinking it was all about me when it wasn’t. 

The big picture is, it’s not about me, the second go around it all. I am here to serve and I am here to be a vessel. And I can honestly say that I think something has still stuck open because my dialogue is so powerful and so congruent and so – I am being guided each step of the way with helping all these different types of people and businesses and athletes and whoever comes my way. It’s like wow! I really feel like I am being used and I am completely open to it. 

There is no Dave Scatchard at this point. I’m a middle man and I’m an agent for change and I just want to help people. It’s a little bit opposite of my career where it was all about me. It was all about playing the best sport that I could play and being at the top of my game— which listen, there are amazing characteristics like discipline and focus and things that I learned during that— but then there were also some things that I’ve learned to let go off as far as armoring so much that I couldn’t feel anything. That was part of my first miracle; removing the mask and the armor I had protecting my heart and soul to go do the job that I had to do. When I removed that stuff, I gave access to all the love and grace that is here on earth that is trying to get to me, to the real me, to the purest version of my soul. It’s crazy! My life basically changed that day and it’s been changed ever since. It’s wild. 

The Armor Theory: Finding The Balance Between Protection and Vulnerability

Jane Stogdill: Wow. Can you tell us a little bit more about an idea you just brought up— you write that there is a balance to find between protection and vulnerability when you are talking about armor just a second ago. Can you tell us what you mean by that? 

Dave Scatchard: When I originally came up with the removing the armor theory— and God kind of guided me to that— and I started ripping off all these layers of armor, and you can imagine we all have that. The first time your heart gets broken, the first time your parent spanks you, the first time your principal yells at you, or your favorite person breaks your trust. Or, for me, I moved away from home at 16. I had a lot of growing up to do. I faced bullies my whole life. 

I was covering up little David, this little pure soul, the whole time because I don’t want him to get hurt, right? What I didn’t realize was as I started fighting in the NHL and that was part of my role— you couldn’t be scared, you couldn’t be tired, you couldn’t make excuses, you couldn’t be injured. You just had to turn off those feeling mechanisms. But in order for me to heal and tune into the vibration of the healing and of the grace and of the love and of the connections to everyone and everything, it’s almost the exact opposite, which is sort of more of my true nature. I went that way. 

Then I started learning from some monks and shamans and all these crazy people that Tony would introduce me to, I’d just go down that road and I’d learn everything I could from them. The crazy thing was is at one point, Tony screamed at me and he’s like, “Dave, you’re like a monk in your cave. You’re all blissed out every day.” I was meditating for like three or four hours a day trying to heal. I was just going in my movie theater in the dark and just connecting and taking off in these journeys where I didn’t really care what was going on, on earth. I didn’t really claim a role, I didn’t really claim a job, I didn’t claim that I was going to help people. I didn’t own anything. I was just floating around out there. Tony said, “You’re like a monk in your cave, you are not helping anybody. You have all these gifts to share. How many people right now do you think are waiting for you to step into that role as a leader and a coach and to help them, while you’re out screwing around and floating off in la-la-land when you could be helping them?” 

Then, I took a good look at myself and I realized, “You know what? There are parts of the armor that weren’t all bad” right? There are parts of the armor that were like strength and boldness and fearlessness and discipline, and integrity, and leadership. Those parts of my armor that I developed while playing in the NHL are incredible and I shouldn’t have just discarded the whole thing.

What I’ve been playing with over the last 10 years of doing this personal development work is how can I switch different types of armor or identities when it’s needed. 

Meaning, I can go and I’m going to go do a public speaking event in front of this huge company in like a week. I have to go out there and be magnified and be the strong leader and powerful and fearless and just rip it, right? But then at the same time, I’ve got to fly home and I’m going to be a dad with my kids and I’ve got to be connected and understanding and compassionate and loving for them. I can’t be all this bold aggressive energy. I need to be a different energy and the same thing with my wife and the same thing with my coaching clients. 

They’re all different styles of energy but being able to wear these different hats on purpose at different times I think is the whole secret. It’s like I can be fearless, I can be bold, I can be strong or I can be as soft and nurturing and healing and loving as somebody needs me to be. Within a split second, I can just turn it on and off and use what I need. It is almost like you start to become like a wizard. 

I remember Tony told me, “Dave, a wizard can do more with his pinkie than a gladiator can do in his lifetime.” I said, “Wow.” That got me thinking and I said, “What if I could start to use all those modalities and all this training from all these incredible people around the world that I trained with?” Grandmasters and energy workers and lightworkers and healers and monks and shamans and spiritual teachers and coaches. I mean, what if I can just kind of take the best of the best from each one of them and just weave that through my identity and be able to flex and flow as I need to? 

I’m telling you, it’s changed my life. It’s changed tens of thousands of lives of people that I have helped because they’ve got to see a glimpse of it and see what’s possible when somebody has committed their entire life to like this new way of being. I’m just grateful that I got the opportunity to see the highest of highs playing in the NHL and making millions of dollars and doing all that stuff and the fame and all of that, that was fine, whatever, and then the darkest of dark, where I am just in pain, I don’t see there’s any light or any hope or anything like that. And then to be able to weave it all together and create this amazing and purposeful life that I have now. [To] just know that there is nothing else for me to do, like this is my mission. I’ll do this until the day I die. This is what I’m called to do. So, I’m just ready to keep crushing it, keep helping people. I hope this book opens up some people’s eyes. I’m on fire about it. 

It has given me permission to talk about God and this experience where I kept that thing on lockdown for a long time and I’m like, “Well, once this book comes out, the whole world is going to know, so we got to just own it and tell the truth and just rock it.” 

Jane Stogdill: Well Dave, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and listeners, I mean we’ve barely scratched the surface. There is so much in the book, the stories of healing and the miracles therein are really incredible and of course, your career is so exciting. I love the way you write about your relationship with your dad. It is really a wonderful book. Again, it is called The Comeback: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell. Dave, in addition to reading the book, where can people go to learn more about you and your work? 

Dave Scatchard: Yeah, our coaching business is called allstarcoaching.com or you can just look up Dave Scatchard on Instagram. We’ll have all our current links and everything up there. Come check out what we’re doing and I can’t wait to meet you in person and if you’ve heard this podcast, let me know about it. I’d love to connect with you and support you and I am just honored that you would take the time to read my book and hear this podcast and just become part of our family, so thank you very much. 

Jane Stogdill: And thank you.