Like any community, the hockey world is always saddened by the sudden passing of one of its own. Four such tragic accidents occurred in 2008, as Mickey Renaud, Luc Bourdon, Alexei Cherepanov, and Pit Martin were mourned, among others.
Windsor Spitfire centreman Mickey Renaud, son of former Hartford d-man Mark Renaud, fell to a tragic heart condition at home in Tecumseh, February 2008. Drafted in 2007 by the Calgary Flames, Mickey's number was retired by the Spitfires after his passing, a memorial to his two years in the OHL. He was 19.
Bourdon, just 21-years old, was killed in a collision with a tractor-trailer while riding his motorcycle in his native New Brunswick in July, 2008. A strong defenseman with a heavy shot, he represented Canada internationally three times, winning two gold medals (WJC) and one silver (U18) before being drafted into the NHL 10th overall in 2005. His short pro career included 36 NHL games and 41 in the AHL.
Alexei Cherepanov was drafted by the Rangers in 2007, but passed away before he could make his NHL debut. He collapsed on the bench in October 2008 while playing for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, after skating his last shift with former Rangers captain Jaromir Jagr. The medical reasons behind the 19-year old's death are still under dispute despite an official inquiry. Like Bourdon, he competed in three IIHF events, taking gold, silver, and bronze with Russia. A concussion during the 2007 Super Series knocked Cherepanov out of the tournament, and Russia failed to win a single game without him.
Hubert Jacques "Pit" Martin passed away in November 2008 after an accident on the ice, as his snowmobile went through the frozen surface of Lake Kanasuta in northwestern Quebec. A talented player, Martin started his NHL career with Detroit in the early '60s, but would be best known as a Chicago Black Hawk, serving as their captain from 1975 to 1977. He had an interesting yet subtle career; he was part of the lopsided trade which saw Phil Esposito become a Bruin, was nicknamed "Pit" after a French cartoon character, played for three Original Six clubs, won the 1970 Bill Masterson Trophy, and quietly racked up an impressive 809 points in 1101 NHL contests.
~ Q.12: Which team did both Luc Bourdon and Pit Martin play on (at separate times) during their pro careers?
Photo: Luc Bourdon (left), seen here at the World Junior Championships, and former vetran "Pit" Martin both passed away in 2008. Insets: Alexei Cherepanov (top), and Mickey Renaud (bottom left) each collapsed suddenly in 2008; heart complications were involved.