Former NHL Player Steve Montador Dies at Age 35

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistFebruary 15, 2015

CHICAGO, IL- DECEMBER 30:  Steve Montador #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks watches for the puck during the NHL game against the Detroit Red Wings on December 30, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bill Smith/Getty Images

Steve Montador, a former NHL defenseman who last played for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12, died Sunday morning. He was 35.    

Montador's cause of death is unknown at this time. Jason Spencer of the Mississauga News reported that a friend found him unresponsive in his home around 2 a.m. Sunday and he was pronounced dead within a half-hour. "Foul play is not suspected, pending the outcome of an autopsy," a police spokesperson said, per Spencer.

NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr issued a statement on Montador's passing, via Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

An undrafted free agent when he signed with the Calgary Flames, Montador embarked on an unlikely decade-long career in 2001-02. He spent most of his career on third and fourth lines, though he did find success late in his NHL stay as a respectable passer.

In 2007-08, Montador set a career high with eight goals and had 23 points—one fewer than he'd put up in his first five seasons combined. That breakout season allowed him to embark on a solid second half to his career, during which he had successful stints with the Anaheim Ducks, Buffalo Sabres and Blackhawks. Montador had his most sustained success in Buffalo, scoring 49 points in his two seasons.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26:  Steve Montador #5 of the Chicago Blackhawks takes control of the puck during the NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on December 26, 2011 at the United Center in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Ima
Bill Smith/Getty Images

Overall, Montador played for six franchises in 10 seasons. No NHL teams showed any interest in him after a 52-game run with Chicago in 2011-12, which abruptly ended with a scary concussion. Trying to work his way back onto NHL ice, Montador played for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL in 2012-13 and Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL in 2013-14. He left the Croatian club due to ongoing concussion symptoms and said the following at the time of his departure, per the Medvescak website:

This injury reminded me of how important it is to think of your health in the long term, and not just for the time being. I’ve been in this situation before, so I’ve tasted it all. I know that I have to be careful and that this step is necessary. That said, I knew that because of the injury I wouldn’t be able to offer as much on the ice as I would want to, and that I’m not at a hundred percent.

Montador admitted to suffering from depression during his recovery from the concussion. In 571 NHL games, Montador scored 33 goals and had 98 assists.   

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