|Born||December 21, 1979|
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
|Died||February 15, 2015 (aged 35),|
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
|6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)|
211 lb (96 kg; 15 st 1 lb)
|Played for||Calgary Flames|
KHL Medveščak Zagreb
Steve Montador (born on December 21, 1979) was a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman who played 571 games in the National Hockey League (NHL) for the Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres and the Chicago Blackhawks before ending his career in 2014 as a member of Medveščak Zagreb of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Junior Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Steve played minor ice hockey with the Mississauga Reps of the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL).
He began his junior hockey career in 1995–96 with the St. Michael's Buzzers of the junior A Ontario Provincial Junior Hockey League (OPJHL).
Steve moved up to the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) the following season and, through a four-year major junior career with the North Bay Centennials, Erie Otters and the Peterborough Petes, scored 174 points and 429 penalty minutes in 251 games.
In his final junior season (1999–2000), he was the Petes' leading scorer among defencemen with 56 points.
Professional Playing Career[edit | edit source]
Despite his play in the OHL, Steve went unselected in the NHL Entry Draft, and ended his junior career as a free agent.
He was signed by the Calgary Flames to a professional tryout offer and joined Calgary's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Saint John Flames where he made his professional debut on April 13, 2000 in a playoff game against the Lowell Lock Monsters.
Steve earned a contract from the Flames and was assigned to Saint John for the 2000–01 season. He recorded 1 goal and 6 assists for Saint John in 58 regular season games, and added 8 assists in 19 playoff games.
Steve and the Flames reached the league championship series against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and won the city's first Calder Cup championship with a 4–2 series win.
Steve spent the majority of the 2001–02 season with Saint John where he scored 9 goals and 25 points in 67 games. He earned his first recall to Calgary early in the season and made his NHL debut on November 23, 2001 – and recorded his first point with an assist – against the Buffalo Sabres.
His first NHL goal came on January 8, 2002, against goaltender Garth Snow in a 5–2 victory over the New York Islanders and he also played with Team Canada at the 2001 Spengler Cup. He appeared in 11 games for Calgary and recorded three points.
In 2002–03, Steve again began the year with Saint John where during one early-season contest, he tied an AHL record for shots in a game with 14.
He was recalled to Calgary days later to replace defenceman Bob Boughner, who suffered a broken thumb. Montador remained with the Flames for the remainder of the season; he recorded a goal and an assist in 50 games.
Staying with the Flames for the entire 2003–04 NHL season, Steve was often the Flames' extra defenceman and appeared in just 26 regular season contests, during which he scored a goal and two assists.
Steve and fellow extra defenceman Mike Commodore were nicknamed "the Doors" and both became key contributors to the Flames' post-season success.
He became a playoff hero for the team after he scored the overtime winning goal in game one of the Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks.
The Flames reached the Stanley Cup Final, but were defeated in seven games by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
As a labour dispute ultimately led to the cancellation of the 2004–05 NHL season, Steve was one of many players who spent the season in Europe; He signed a deal to play with the Mulhouse Scorpions of France's Ligue Magnus and brought Flames teammate Steve Reinprecht over as well.
Steve appeared in 15 games with Mulhouse where he scored 1 goal and added 7 assists. The Scorpions went on to win the Ligue Magnus title.
He returned to Calgary to begin the 2005–06 season after the league and players resolved their dispute, however head coach Darryl Sutter struggled to find a place in the lineup for him, and by the start of December, Steve had played only seven games.
Hoping to improve his team and to give Montador a place to play regularly, Sutter and the Flames traded Steve (along with Dustin Johner) to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Kristian Huselius on December 2, 2005.
Steve played full-time on the Panthers' defence; he finished the 2005–06 season with 58 games played combined between the two teams, scored 2 goals and added 5 assists. He then recorded nine points in 72 games in 2006–07 and then set personal highs in games played (73), goals (8) and points (23).
Following the season, Steve left the Panthers and returned to the west as he signed a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
His time in Anaheim was short lived as, after recording 20 points in 65 games for the team, the Ducks traded him on March 4, 2009, to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Petteri Nokelainen. He finished the regular season with an assist in 13 games, then added four points in 11 playoff games.
Again a free agent, Steve signed a two-year, $3.1 million contract with the Buffalo Sabres. The team hoped that he could add a physical presence to their team after losing Jaroslav Spacek to the Montreal Canadiens.
Steve recorded 23 points in 78 games for Buffalo in 2009–10 and then posted the highest totals of his career of 21 assists and 26 points, in 73 game in 2010–11.
However, his play declined late in the season, and he was ultimately left out of the lineup as a healthy scratch for Buffalo's deciding game seven (a loss) to the Philadelphia Flyers.
Consequently, the team opted not to re-sign Steve and traded his rights to the Chicago Blackhawks on June 28, 2011, for a seventh round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. Chicago immediately signed him to a four-year, $11 million contract.
Steve appeared in 52 games for the Blackhawks in 2011–12, scored five goals and added nine assists. However, his season was ended after he suffered a serious concussion during a game.
He required almost a full year to recover from the injury, and as a result played only 14 games for Chicago's AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs late in the 2012–13 season before Chicago opted to buy-out the remaining two years of his contract.
Steve left the NHL to join Croatian team KHL Medveščak Zagreb of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He appeared in 11 games for Zagreb and recorded three assists in what was the final season of his career.
Death[edit | edit source]
On February 15, 2015, Steve was found dead in his Mississauga home at the age of 35. According to his brother, Chris "he just either stopped breathing or his heart went". Four days after his death, Steve's girlfriend gave birth to their son.
Steve's death was a shock to players throughout the NHL and many of his former teammates spoke positively of his influence and attitude.
Daniel Carcillo reflected on his friendship with Steve in an interview for "The Players' Tribune" and cited Steve as a positive influence who helped him overcome his substance abuse problems. Carcillo noted that he witnessed Steve's mental state slowly deteriorate before his death and called upon the NHL community to establish a formal exit-procedure for players suffering from post-concussion syndrome.
Chris Montador had also noted a change in Steve's behavior prior to his death.
Steve had openly spoke about the depression he suffered following his concussion issues in Chicago and according to Chris, he spent a great deal of time researching the effects of head injuries.
Chris noted that both he and Steve had suffered from concussions as children and that Steve had promised to donate his brain to medical researchers studying brain issues.
Researchers studying Steve's brain noted that he had suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain condition that doctors have noted is caused by concussions. As a consequence of the revelation, lawyers representing his estate stated their intention to file a lawsuit against the NHL.
Career Statistics[edit | edit source]
|1996–97||North Bay Centennials||OHL||63||7||28||35||129||—||—||—||—||—|
|1997–98||North Bay Centennials||OHL||37||5||16||21||54||—||—||—||—||—|
|1999–00||Saint John Flames||AHL||—||—||—||—||—||2||0||0||0||0|
|2000–01||Saint John Flames||AHL||58||1||6||7||95||19||0||8||8||13|
|2001–02||Saint John Flames||AHL||67||9||16||25||107||—||—||—||—||—|
|2002–03||Saint John Flames||AHL||11||1||7||8||20||—||—||—||—||—|
|2013–14||KHL Medveščak Zagreb||KHL||11||0||3||3||33||—||—||—||—||—|
Personal Life[edit | edit source]
Off the ice, Steve was a supporter of the Right to Play charity and took trips to Africa to work with children as part of the organization's events.
He was also a member of the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA)'s bargaining committee during the 2012–13 NHL lockout.