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Death of teen captain Mickey Renaud, kid with 'goofy smile,' stuns hockey world

NHL.com @NHL

WINDSOR, Ont. - The sudden unexplained death of a teenaged hockey captain described as a well loved leader with a "goofy smile" stunned the hockey world Tuesday and left his team reeling.

Windsor Spitfires captain Mickey Renaud collapsed on Monday at his home in nearby Tecumseh, Ont. He was 19.

"When I think of Mickey, I look at that big goofy smile of his, every day looking to come to the rink, looking to make somebody's life a little bit better," said Tom Webster, a scout for the NHL's Calgary Flames, which drafted Renaud last year.

"The hockey community is going to miss a very good person."

Regional supervising coroner David Eden said an autopsy was done Tuesday, with preliminary results released only to Renaud's family.

A comprehensive investigation was underway to determine the cause of death, Eden said.

"We have arranged for considerable further testing to be done over the next three to four months," Eden said.

"We'll be updating his family as we receive those results."

The team's next game scheduled for Thursday was put off while his teammates returned home to grieve.

"Playing hockey is the furthest thing from our minds," said Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel, choking back tears.

Tributes poured in from around the country and even from abroad.

"When you break it down, the hockey world is a really small world," Rychel said.

A commemorative No. 18 sticker - Renaud's number - will be worn on the helmet of every OHL player for the rest of the season, while the Spitfires will wear a special commemorative jersey crest.

In addition, video and other tributes were planned for both OHL and NHL games.

.At an emotional news conference, Rychel recalled Renaud as a "class act."

"His teachers loved him. His teammates loved him. His friends loved him," Rychel said.

"My dad remembers when he used to peek his head over the skate shop to get his skates sharpened in this building. He was only just a little guy."

Coach Bob Boughner said there had been absolutely no indication anything was wrong with his star player.

He described the teenager as the face of the organization and said he won't be replaced as captain for now.

Renaud was always looking out for other players, and took new prospects under his wing.

"Words can't describe what Mickey meant to us as a coaching staff, as an ownership group and as a player amongst the rest of our players," Boughner said.

At the Windsor Arena, a stream of fans of the late player, some carrying flowers, dropped by to sign a book of condolences.

Among them was the Coffey family, who are season-ticket holders.

Six-year-old Shannon Coffey stayed home from school to draw tribute pictures, said her dad, Tom.

"Shannon is sad that you are in heaven," said one picture she made.

The Flames selected the big centre with the 143rd overall pick in last year's entry draft.

He showed solid development last season when he scored 22 goals and amassed 54 points in 68 OHL games. Renaud had 21 goals and 41 points in 56 games this season, last playing in Owen Sound, Ont., on Sunday, when his team won 4-1.

"This is obviously a very difficult time for Mickey's family, friends and teammates as well as the entire Ontario Hockey League family," OHL commissioner David Branch said in a statement.

"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."

Visitation for Renaud was scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday in Windsor, with his funeral set for Friday morning in Tecumseh.

"He's going to be missed dearly by all of us, and that's the suffering everybody is going through," Webster said.

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