Former NHL defenseman Steve Montador was found dead in his home on Sunday, and the cause of death is not yet known.

While tributes poured in from around the hockey world, Globe and Mail hockey reporter James Mirtle made an assumption he would instantly regret.


[via @RedMileDJ]

Mirtle immediately faced backlash on Twitter, and after deleting the original tweet, he issued an apology.

Montador’s career ended due to concussions and he was reportedly a plaintiff in the concussion case against the NHL. TSN’s Rick Westhead reports that lawyers will ask Montador’s family about testing his brain for CTE, a progressive degenerative condition that can be diagnosed postmortem in individuals with a history of multiple head injuries.

Still, making the leap from concussions to depression and suicide is ill-advised without a cause of death, and Mirtle acknowledged his mistake. We may never know what happened to Montador, nor do we need to, but respect for his family should come first.

In the knee-jerk reaction world of Twitter and with the ease of screencaps, these errors in judgment are going to live on, for better or worse. There are no mulligans in the era of social media, so reporters have even more of a responsibility to be careful about speculating when it comes to such sensitive subjects.

About Josh Gold-Smith

Josh is a staff writer and the resident video editor for Awful Announcing. He is also a news editor at theScore, based in Toronto. GIF has a hard G, Bridgeport Sound doesn't exist, and the jury's still out on #Vineghazi