Montador's recovery 'a blessing' after suffering depression

Montador's recovery 'a blessing' after suffering depression

March 8, 2013, 3:30 pm
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It’s just a real blessing and I’m just filled with gratitude that my recovery’s brought me this far.
—Steve Montador on rejoining his teammates
There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and depression that comes with that.
—Montador on the "roller coaster" he was on during his recovery

Steve Montador had some dark days over this past year.

The Chicago Blackhawks defenseman has been to hell and back during his concussion recovery, which has been up and down -– and outside of the last few months, it was more down than anything. But Montador has been steadily going up since around the time the season began; and the fact that he’s even here at all is “a blessing.”

Montador, who has played in just one game since last February, was cleared to play earlier this week. It’s been a long road for Montador, who will not play tonight against the Colorado Avalanche. But he’s getting there, and that means a lot considering where he’s come from to reach this point.

“It’s just really hard to put into words the experience to be back with the guys. It’s just a real blessing and I’m just filled with gratitude that my recovery’s brought me this far,” Montador said following the Blackhawks’ morning skate today. “Just every day is a brand new day and there’s a lot of enjoyment. I love being around the guys, I’m glad to be on the road here. To feel myself get better out there, I’m just filled with a lot of gratitude.”

Montador had a lot of dark days over the last year, which he called a “roller coaster.” Being ill and away from the game he loves, Montador said he suffered from depression.

“I can see why people have a hard time with a number of different things and being taken away from something they love to do and not sure if you’d ever get back the chance. There’s a lot of uncertainty, a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety and depression that comes with that,” said Montador. “I’ve had a lot of help to work through that and I feel like I’ve taken the right steps.

“The first time I ever heard the word depression… there's some stigma around it,” Montador said. “What I've learned from my condition (is that) actual neural transmitters are being prevented from connecting and being used in the brain, so it’s an actual physical issue.”

When Montador returns to the lineup is still a question. He’s been out a long time. He suffered a concussion on Feb. 7, 2012 against Colorado, returned March 27 against the New Jersey Devils, but was reinjured that night and missed the rest of the 2011-12 season. He was on his way back during the lockout before re-aggravating it in a practice. Montador said a rehab assignment in the AHL has been discussed. And whether he plays his first game there or in a Blackhawks uniform, he knows the risks.

“If I get into a game I expect to get hit and I expect to hit people. If I went into a game fearful, the first thing that's going to happen is I'm going to get hit and I'm going to get smoked. That's the part of the recovery,” he said. “If I felt it was an issue I wouldn't put myself into that position. Having said that, I'm not fully back yet. Maybe it will come to that but as of right now, no, if anything I'm looking forward to that.”

Montador will continue to take it day by day. And if he can still play, he will.

“It’s one thing to not play the game, and at some point we’re all not going to play and we’re all going to have to accept that. But you want to go out saying you’ve done the best you can. I wanted to say that as well,” he said. “If I did everything I could and wasn’t able to come back, then I could live with that, too. And I’m still along that process. But lately it’s all been up and up; basically since right after the start of the season, things have slowly progressed. Getting skated hard, pretty much every day, is tough. It’s physically challenging. But I’m grateful just to be doing that right now.”