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The Daily Hilario: Too soon

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STEVE MONTADOR (1979-2015):

It's easy to underestimate the number of lives professional sports players touch, especially when it comes to the "lesser" stars.  And Montador was hardly the biggest star.  A 10-year NHL journeyman defenseman, he had about five solid seasons before a concussion (not his first) wrecked his career and, combined with the 2013 lockout, forced him into retirement.  Afterwards, he would often speak candidly about the effects that injury had had on his life, his career, and his well-being.

At the time of the injury, he had been playing with the Blackhawks, who signed him as a second-line defenseman in a bid to make another Stanley Cup run.  Unfortunately, he ended up playing just 52 games for the Hawks ... and yet was the players' union representative for the lockout.  By all accounts -- and I do mean all, from NHL brass down on through players and staff at his various teams and even Facebook comments -- he was a popular and personable, and several current Blackhawks players were reduced to shocked silence when told of the news on Sunday.  The type of player who went out of his way to help the young kids settle when on rehab in the minor leagues, or take extra time out to talk to fans, on or off the ice.  The type of player whose greatness only truly comes out when he's no longer playing and people realize what's missing.

On Sunday, Montador passed away in the middle of the night in his home.  No foul play or suicide is suspected.  He was 35.  Too soon.

"This is what you liked about the guy. He's a guy that came from nowhere and worked for everything he got and made a name for himself. His teammates, everybody loved him - everybody you talked to, no one's got a bad thing to say about Steve. He was a fun guy to be around."

"Off ice, he was just a quality guy that you wanted to be friends with."

-former teammate & roommate Martin Gelinas; source: Globe and Mail

FOOTBALL (all times GMT):
19.05:  FA Youth Cup, quarterfinal:  Newcastle United U18 vs. Chelsea U18
19.30:  FA Cup, 5th round:  Preston North End vs. Manchester United