The only thing rivaling Steve Montador’s on-ice stature was the size of his impact in the Peterborough community beginning at his billet home.
“He shared his dreams with others and he wanted others to be happy and successful,” explained land mom Mary Babcock. Also included in Montador’s billet family is father Terry, brother Adam, and sister Amanda.
Babcock’s initial introduction to the Petes d-man was through her son Adam upon a pre-game ceremony at a Petes home game.
“While Adam was skating around during the opening ceremonies, Steve took Adam’s hand and skated around with him.It was a beautiful sight, this young boy staring up at this very tall hockey player, and this young man, Steve, taking an interest in a young boy that he just met.”
The two buddies became brothers when the Petes called on the Babcock family to house Montador in his 1999-00 season.
“At that moment there was an instant connection for all. A few days later we were asked to billet Steve and we said yes.”
In all accounts reflecting on Steve’s legacy, a common theme throughout conversations was his connection with kids. It was in his nature to extend compassion towards children and fill his spare time in service to his billet siblings.
Steve was close to both children Adam and Amanda [billet siblings].He would play with both children when they were younger and was seen as their official big brother,”explained Babcock. He would spend time with Adam at Rebound Hockey and Amanda would be pushing her on the swing or just chill and watch cartoons. “The best thing he did was listen. He actually listened to what Adam and Amanda had to say, he again treated them like he wished to be treated.
Furthermore, he saw out genuine respect of children. Steve’s compulsion to energize youth was in equal parts a joy for them and fulfilling to him.
“Steve went in and spoke in Adam’s second grade class and talked about hockey, life and always following your dreams. “He brought a stack of autograph cards and signed them all ‘Dream Big –Steve Montador’ –that was always his saying, ‘Dream Big!”
Montador relished equally in the luck of being afforded a billet family who adopted him as one of their own – which included helping with the family’s fundraising projects, like the Kawartha Lakes This Week golf tournament for a ‘Place Called Home’, mundane tasks like roofing, building a shed, assisting with a pool liner,and sibling battle for the remote controller between himself and billet sister Amanda.
“Amanda wanted to watch cartoons and Steve wanted to watch Columbo (he loved crime fighting and law shows), and Amanda, being clever, would hide the converter in the freezer. Steve would end up watching cartoons as he did not want to go looking for it.The truth be known he knew where the converter was –he would just play along with her –it was little game they had.”
Mary continued, “As a family, Steve was included in everything we did.He would go bowling with us, watch TV, and go biking.”
Steve’s relationship with the Babcock family continued to bloom beyond his time in Peterborough. Throughout his NHL career, the Babcocks connected and celebrated with Steve on each of his milestones, ensuring that each of his professional clubs knew who they were to him.
“Steve included us in his life – and we included him in ours.We went to the Stanley Cup playoffs in Tampa Bay.Steve was playing for Calgary at the time.He wanted to make sure that we shared in his success. We would often go to his games and after the games we would meet him afterwards –he would introduce us to his teammates and then we would all go out to dinner.”
A testament to the bond the Babcocks shared with Steve was most fully understood in the family’s final goodbye to their big brother.
“They [Babcock children and Steve] loved each other unconditionally, which is the rarest gift.Adam had the privilege of being one of Steve’s pallbearers.The hardest job for Adam and the one he was most honoured to have.”
In reflecting on their time with Steve and ongoing relationship in absence of his physical presence, Mary stated:
Steve, was a great addition to my family.When Steve left us, it put a huge hole in all of our hearts and one that will forever remain.He was a great gift and he gave far more to our family then we gave him.The influence he had on my children and their friends will always be treasured and he assisted in making them the people they are today.I know that Steve is watching over us now and he would be proud of his Babcock billet brother and sister, Adam and Amanda.They have turned out to be great adults. I know that Steve was looking down on September 8th at Adam and Danielle’s wedding and he would have a huge smile on his face.
Love and the endless amount he shared with the Babcocks will be one of Steve’s greatest legacies. His humility and thoughtfulness towards his adopted Peterborough family spoke to his ‘family first’ mentality and innate connection with children.