Former NHL defenseman Steve Montador died Sunday morning in his Mississauga, Ontario, home, according to Peel Regional Police. He was 35.
Police said they received a 911 call just after 2 a.m., and attempts to resuscitate Montador upon arrival were unsuccessful.
“We are not treating it as anything criminal,” said police spokeswoman Fiona Thivierge. “It’s a sudden death, so there’s nothing to indicate anything untoward, just natural causes as far as we know.”
Montador last played in the NHL during the 2011-12 season when he was with the Chicago Blackhawks.
“With deep sadness we mourn the unfortunate loss of former Blackhawk Steve Montador,” the Blackhawks said in a statement. “We join the many others throughout the NHL in keeping Steve’s family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement Sunday night.
“The NHL family was saddened to learn of the passing of Steve Montador. Steve’s career was defined by a passion for the game and a determination that made him a great teammate as well as a respected opponent. We extend our deepest sympathies to Steve’s family and friends.”
Montador most recently played in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League, in 2013-14, with Zagreb Medvescak, but was forced to leave the team because of the effects of a concussion.
“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,” Montador told the Medvescak website.
He had suffered a concussion on Feb. 7, 2012, while with the Blackhawks. After recovering, he played 14 games in the 2012-13 season with the Blackhawks’ affiliate in Rockford, Ill. Chicago used one of its compliance buyouts on Montador that summer.
He was part of the NHL Players’ Association’s negotiating committee during the 2012-13 lockout, and according to TSN, was a plaintiff in a concussion lawsuit against the NHL.
Montador, who wasn’t drafted, played for six teams during his 10-season NHL career, including the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins. He went to the 2004 Stanley Cup Final with the Flames and scored in overtime in Game 1 of the Western Conference final.
“He was a wonderful guy and great teammate,” former Flames and Panthers teammate Martin Gelinas said in a statement released by the Flames. “Caring, intelligent…everybody loved Steve. He was so full of energy and life. Steve worked hard for everything he got and made a name for himself in the NHL.”
Montador recorded 33 goals, 131 points and 807 penalty minutes in 571 games.