Recently, more and more players are joining the fight in hockey. However, these fights aren’t against other players, but rather, against the NHL itself. Daniel Carcillo is one of many players who are now suing the NHL for withholding information about traumatic brain injuries.
Yesterday, we began down the road that makes up former Chicago Blackhawk Daniel Carcillo’s story (Part I can be read right here). We detailed Daniel’s life growing up. How he made his to the NHL. His countless injuries and TBIs which he’s managed to life through. However, not all athletes who’ve been in his position have been so fortunate.
Today, we’ll go deeper into that.
Steve Montador and Daniel Carcillo
Daniel met Steve — or Monty, a fellow Chicago Blackhawk — in Chicago during the 2011 season. Steve was a recovered alcoholic and recently sober while Daniel was in the process of kicking his addiction to pain medicine post-surgery.
Carcillo said Montador served as a “huge help” in leading a sober life. Monty was someone Daniel could talk to and confide in about his struggles with mental health. In a lot of ways, the two provided each other a sense of normalcy.
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Carcillo talks about it in one of many pieces he wrote or participated in for the Players Tribune, titled A Bittersweet Day. “We used to go out to the same golf course in Chicago after practice and play nine holes. We weren’t amazing golfers, but it was just a place for us to get away from hockey and stress for a little bit. For all the holes we played over the years, the thing I remember most is Monty’s laugh echoing out over that quiet course.”
Time together obviously meant a lot to Daniel, with him going on to say “When Monty passed away in February, one of the memories I kept coming back to was how much fun we had out there on the golf course.”
A laugh like that? A person like that?
They never truly go away. They present themselves to you all the time in various ways. When Monty passed away on February 15th, 2015, Carcillo heard that laugh again. Here’s an excerpt from Daniel’s website where he recalls that February day.
“My best friend in hockey, Steve Montador, was found dead in his home at age 35. Steve was a 12-year NHL vet who battled drug and alcohol addiction at certain points in his career. Since he walked away from the game due to concussions in 2013, he was struggling to figure out what to do next. But I was still in complete shock and disbelief.”
Continuing, he wrote “For some reason, I started getting dressed for the pre-game skate. As a hockey player, you’re just taught to push through the pain, no matter what. I got pretty close to getting halfway dressed when I started putting on my skates. I glanced across the room and saw the stall Monty used to sit in when we played together. I heard his deep, hearty laugh.”
Montador was his best friend, and the loss crushed Daniel.
Leading up to that day, he could see him slipping. “Over the years I felt the deterioration of his mind… Just recently going home to Mississauga [Canada] his home and seeing the number of sets of keys he had for the same lock kind of tells you the story of what was going on in his head and his memory loss and his mental state… he was trying so many things to reverse the symptoms or feel normal and he just couldn’t.”
Ultimately, Steve never was able to reverse the symptoms as he was found dead in his Ontario home on Sunday, February 15, 2015.
He suffered from depression heavily as a result of the multiple concussions/TBIs he had sustained.
Carcillo recalls Steve waking up and never knowing if it would be a good day or a bad one. If he could get out of bed or if he’d have to shut the blinds. If he would be himself. Montador’s son was born just four days after his death.
Somehow, given all of this, primarily newspapers in cities where Montador played and small hockey media outlets were the only to talk about it.
That ends now.