Steve Montador was a solid depth defenseman who rarely made headlines. Unfortunately he has made headlines for the worst possible reason this weekend.
The 35 year old former NHLer passed away in his sleep in his home near Toronto. An autopsy, unscheduled at this time, will be necessary to determine what exactly happened. Police say no foul play happened and that he died of "natural causes."
"He was a leader in the locker-room," said former Chicago teammate Patrick Sharp. "He did a lot for the union on our team, and then league-wide. He was friendly with everybody and a great teammate. It’s really disappointing to hear the news before the game. We’re going to support each other, support his family and all of his close friends, and get through it."
Montador had 33 goals and 98 assists in 571 career NHL games. He played for the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and Chicago Blackhawks before finishing his playing career in the KHL.
I will always remember Montador as a member of the Calgary Flames and his impressive play during the Flames run to the Stanley Cup final vs Tampa Bay in 2004. He and Mike Commodore - the duo were nicknamed "The Doors" - were pressed into action due to injuries and they preformed admirably.
"I think it's just a great challenge to accept," Montador said. "Mike (Commodore) and I both respond well to challenges and I think we've done a pretty good job so far. Some people have asked me if I was thrown into the fire and I said 'Yes, I guess,' and I think a lot of people thought of that as a negative thing. But I thought 'what a great way to try and excel and make something out of yourself. So I think I just tried to take the opportunity in stride and have fun with it and like I said so far it's worked out pretty well."
Montador had a bad history with concussions during his playing career, which led to depression and anxiety. However it is important to stress there is no indication that his concussion history had anything to do with his death.
Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News has the best remembrance piece on Steve Montador:
He was serious too. Not many athletes have ever asked me the process of writing and filing a game story on deadline. Not only did Montador ask, he once followed the process with me for three straight days. He even couldn’t resist pointing out a sentence that he thought was a little weak.
Montador worked tirelessly on behalf of the NHL Players Association. He loved giving time to SABAH, Buffalo’s skating association for the blind and handicapped. He went on an NHL Right To Play mission to Tanzania in 2007 with Edmonton’s Andrew Ference, who recalled Sunday how Montador came on the trip on a week’s notice and even took a minute behind the controls of a small plane they were riding in.
“He flew the airplane over the Serengeti,” Ference told the Calgary Herald. “My life was in his hands.”
Here is the full story.