Blackhawks assistant equipment manager dies Sunday morning

Puck Daddy
Photo via Chicago Blackhawks
Photo via Chicago Blackhawks
Photo via Chicago Blackhawks 
Photo via Chicago Blackhawks 

Some sad news out of Chicago. 

Blackhawks assistant equipment manager Clint Reif, 34, died Sunday morning. Below is the release from Chicago.

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“We are deeply saddened by the untimely loss of one of our own family members this morning, assistant equipment manager Clint Reif. Like all trainers and support staff within our organization, Clint was instrumental in helping our players and coaches prepare and compete both on and off the ice. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the Reif family.”

While the cause of death is still unknown according to reports, the below blurb was published in the Chicago Sun-Times.

According to a DuPage County coroner statement, Reif was found unresponsive in his Lombard home, where he was pronounced dead at 8:32 a.m. The death still is under investigation by the coroner’s office and Lombard police, officials said.

The above photo is a decal players wore for Reif on their helmets in Sunday's game against Toronto. The Blackhawks held a moment of silence prior to the contest

For all these guys who spend a lot of time together, it's like losing a family member. Reif was in his ninth season with the Blackhawks, according to the team's website. 

Following the game, a 4-0 win by the Blackhawks, there was clearly a sullen mood amongst the players.

From the Chicago Tribune:

Asked what made Reif so special, Patrick Sharp began to answer but then apologized and walked out of the dressing room.

Duncan Keith, who was perhaps the player closest to Reif, said: "It was tough. To lose a close friend and have to try to play a hockey game on that same day, it wasn't easy."

From CSN Chicago:

"It's tough to describe," (Jonathan) Toews said, pausing between each sentence. "I think a lot of people, whether guys in this locker room or anyone else, other athletes, who have lost someone close to them and have to find ways to get their minds together and go out there any play as a team ... It's really tough to describe, something that still hasn't sunk in for most of us yet. But we were definitely playing with heavy hearts out there.

"We're still in disbelief. The fact we went out there and played the way we did, we dedicated that one to our good friend Clint."

Below are tweets from former Blackhawks members on Reif: 

Players know and certainly appreciate the hard work and effort of equipment managers who sharpen their skates and fix their helmets. Managers tend to become close with the people they serve, and it sounds like Reif was no different with the Blackhawks. 

While this thought is clearly not in the front of people's minds right now, but with Chicago playing in the Jan. 1 Winter Classic and the NHL and the Blackhawks filming an all access series with EPIX to promote the event, one does have to make sure this situation will be handled the right way on screen.  

Again, just terrible news. Thoughts go to Reif's family, his wife Kelly and their four children -- daughters Florence, Aislynn, Colette and son, C.J.

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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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