The Windsor Spitfires will mourn and grieve the loss of captain and Calgary Flames draft pick Mickey Renaud, who died suddenly Monday at his home in Ontario. And then they will continue the season in his honour.
"There will not be another captain here this season," said Bob Boughner, the Spitfire president and coach. "He is our captain and will remain our captain. He will be with us every day, every game, every practice."
|Mickey Renaud |
Players, coaches, team executives, parents, family, teachers, billets and crisis management professionals have bonded together in Windsor to help ease the pain of the loss of the 19-year-old Renaud, described as the ultimate team player and consummate professional.
Renaud's death has rippled through the Canadian hockey world. The Ontario Hockey League has cancelled the Spitfires home game on Thursday to give players time to come to grips with the tragedy. Hotels have offered to put up parents of players in the Windsor area so they can be with their children. The team held a chapel service Tuesday morning at a local Catholic school where most of the players attend school.
On Friday, when the Flames host the Detroit Red Wings, the team will pay tribute to Renaud prior to the game.
The players continue to spend a lot of time together and have dedicated the remainder of the season to Renaud.
"We're reaching out and using every resource that we can," said Boughner. "We have not been apart much and that is by choice. When we get together we try and share stories about Mickey."
Renaud, by all accounts, was the heart and soul of the Spitfires, a team in the midst of a great season. He was a liason between the dressing room and the coaches, always looking out for his team.
"He always had an issue, but never about himself. He is the heartbeat of what we have built here," said Boughner.
Flames scout Tom Webster, who is based in the Windsor area, was very proud of Renaud and the fact that the Flames drafted him.
"We talk identity, about players coming every night and playing hard. To me, after watching Mickey for the last three years, I would say Mickey could fit that role," said Webster. "I felt that given some time to play and development he would fit into a role on our hockey team."
Renaud, 19, was drafted by the Flames in the fifth round, 143rd overall, of the 2007 Entry Draft. The 6'3", 220-pound center had 41 points in 56 games with the Spitfires in the Ontario Hockey League this season.
Webster, who planned to be with the Renaud family on Tuesday evening, added that Renaud was dedicated to his hockey.
"He had a mindset and would not be swayed. He wanted to be a Calgary Flame," said Webster.
Condolences and offers of help continue to pour in at the Spitfires offices.
"It is with sadness and deep regret that we share the news of the passing of Flames prospect and Windsor Spitfires team captain, Mickey Renaud," the Flames organization said in a statement.
"The Calgary Flames pass along our condolences to the Renaud family, Mickey’s father Mark, mother Jane, sister Penny and brother Remy. Additionally, we express our deepest sympathy to the entire Windsor Spitfires organization; Mickey’s teammates, coaches and staff."RELATED:Blog: Sadness strikes Flames familyOfficial Windsor Spitfire Website
The OHL, in conjunction with the Spitfires ,are developing a suitable video tribute that will be utilized before the next home game in each OHL city and that a commemorative #18 sticker will be worn on the helmet of every OHL player for the remainder of the season.
The Spitfires are also planning to wear a special commemorative jersey crest until the conclusion of this season.
“This is obviously a very difficult time for Mickey’s family, friends and teammates as well as the entire Ontario Hockey League family,” said OHL Commissioner David Branch. “We take great pride in Mickey’s involvement in our league during the past three years and recognize the leadership, passion, love of the game and the respect for teammates and opponents that he brought to the rink every day. We are proud to dedicate these initiatives to honour the memory of a young man that was cherished in his community.”
Renaud suddenly collapsed at his Tecumseh home and was rushed to Windsor Regional Hospital with absent vital signs on Monday. All resuscitation attempts were unsuccessful.
“This is the biggest tragedy in Spitfire history. Words alone cannot describe our pain at this time,” said Windsor Spitfires Vice-President and General Manager Warren Rychel.
Renaud was in his third season with the Spitfires and had attended the Flames training camp last fall.
"He was a guy who gave you a little of everything — penalty killing, he could play on the power play, he could hit," Flames scout Todd Button. "The thing that struck me was his leadership, especially with a young team. He got the job done."
Mark Renaud, Mickey's father, played 152 games in the NHL, most of them with the Hartford Whalers, as a solid defenceman. Mark's brother, Chris, played in the AHL and was coached by Webster.
The Spitfires announced the following location, dates and times for the viewing and funeral of Mickey Renaud. They are as follows: Location:
Families First Funeral Home, located on 3260 Dougall Ave. Visitation dates and times: Wednesday February 20th from 7 – 9 pmThursday February 21st from 3-5 pm and 7-9 pm
Funeral date:Friday, February 22nd at 10:30 am at St. Anne’s Church in Tecumseh