By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
96. Steve Montador – Signed by the Sabres in 2009
Steve Montador’s biggest contribution to the Sabres and to hockey was a unique one. He taught us a lesson with his death.
He went undrafted and signed as a free agent with Calgary’s organization in 2000. Montador saw spot duty with the Flames for the next few years, and didn’t become a regular until 2006 with Florida. He bounced from there to Anaheim and Boston. The Sabres thought they could use a physical presence on defense in 2011, and signed him to a two-year contract.
Montador did what was needed for most of those two seasons, but his play dropped off a bit at the end of the run and he was a healthy scratch at times. Was that the first sign of physical problems for him? It’s impossible to say. Montador’s rights were dealt to Chicago, where he signed a four-year contract in 2011. By all accounts, his teammates on the Sabres were sad to see him depart.
The defenseman only stayed in Chicago for a season. Montador started to suffer from depression and was soon out of hockey. He died in 2015, and an autopsy found CTE in his brain. The issue of the effect of concussions on hockey players became a major one in the sport; Ken Dryden wrote about Montador at length in his book, “Game Change.” Maybe we all learned something the hard way because of Steve.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)