During his time on the ice, Montador played for Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Chicago and Florida. In recent years, however, he had hung up his skates after suffering several concussions. Montador had developed symptoms associated with neurodegenerative disease, including erratic behavior, depression and problems with memory.
Prior to his death, Montador had stipulated that his brain be donated for research at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre. The Centre runs the Canadian Sports Concussion Project, which analyzes the brains of athletes to detect signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. A Centre doctor confirmed recently that the player’s brain showed definite signs of CTE.
Of the 16 brains of deceased athletes that have been examined in the Project, approximately 50 per cent were positive for CTE. The degenerative disorder has been linked to multiple blows to the head.
His survivors released a statement saying that “the finding of widespread CTE in Steven’s brain helps us all better understand that his brain was ravaged by disease and he was unable to control it.” Family members are seeking legal redress against the NHL.
The NHL countered with a statement offering condolences for his passing but disagreeing that there was any link between Montador’s hockey career and his death.
In recent years, research has begun establishing a correlation between the head-pounding blows professional athletes in contact sports receive throughout their careers and traumatic brain injuries. Both the physical and psychological manifestations of the injuries can be devastating. Many athletes are seeking compensation for their injuries by filing litigation.