I’m torn up right now. Not at the loss of a friend, but at the loss of a role model. An everyday, human being sort of role model.
That’s the type of guy Steve Montador was, at least in the public eye. Worked his butt off. Supported his teammates. Always accountable to those like me who were paid to ask him why he fell down and gave away a goal, as if there was an answer worth giving other than, “It wasn’t on purpose.”
But more than all that, Montador was one of those guys you looked at and thought, “Wow, this is a dude.” He carried that edge that I think a lot of people like me, ex-punks who think they still kinda qualify, want to have. Nasty and gritty on the ice, with long tatted arms and a competitive spirit to match; Kind and funny off the ice, smarter than the room but never acting that way.
And as I keep reading about him in the wake of his Sunday morning death at 35, I’m having a difficult time. As a teammate and friend, he clearly lived up to the image I’d created in my head and then some.
Doing some work last night for CSNPhilly.com, I watched Ray Emery get emotional when asked about his former teammate in Chicago. It seemed most everyone who knew Steve loved him (See Bill Hoppe’s quality piece on Mike Weber/Montador here).
Montador also battled demons I know too well, likely from the same source. I was never a pro-level hockey player, but to this day fight through anxiety and — at times — depression that was elevated time and again by some horrible on-ice concussions. And while I’ve managed to work my support system, contemplation, coping mechanisms and mentality into a place where I know I’m safe, I know how hard it is to make that journey and how many times I could’ve fallen along the way.
The more I read about Montador, the more it stings.
So from a Celtic supporter to a Rangers fan, I’ll miss knowing a guy like you is among us, Steve. A good leader and trusted friend, a man who lived the dream for us, and has left the world at a horribly-young age.