Terrible news for the Chicago Blackhawks family. Steve Montador, a former 'Hawks defenseman, was found dead in his home in Mississauga, Ontario, on Sunday morning, according to reports. Montador was just 35 years old.
No foul play or suicide is suspected, according to police via ESPN.
Originally a member of the Calgary Flames in the early 2000s, Montador also played for the Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres before signing with the 'Hawks in 2011. He played 52 games for Chicago in 2011-12 before a concussion ended his season prematurely, then needed over a year to recover before getting back on the ice with the IceHogs. That stint only lasted 14 games before his contract was bought out, and he spent the 2013-14 season in the KHL.
The concussion, which occurred March 27, 2012 during a game against the New Jersey Devils, proved to be a turning point in Montador's career. He spoke candidly afterwards about the struggles he had with post-concussion symptoms, revealing some of the troubles that plague NHL players who suffer major head injuries.
"I know people talk about sports being a microcosm for life, and it’s very true that way." he said. "I can see why people have a hard time with … being taken away from something they love to do. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and depression. I’ve had a lot of help to work through that, and I feel like I’ve taken the right steps."
Details on Montador's passing are not publicly known yet. We wish nothing but the best for Montador's family and hope this is another opportunity for the hockey community to embrace the seriousness of head injuries. Nobody should have to suffer for years simply because they wanted to play a sport for a living.
(Originally posted at 11:37 a.m. CT. Updated to include new information.)