RALEIGH — TheCarolina Hurricanesare dealing with a loss much greater than Sunday night's season ending defeat in Boston. Defenseman Steve Chiasson died in a car accident in Wake County early Monday morning.
Chiasson and teammates had just returned to Raleigh from Boston. A Hurricanes spokesman said the team's charter arrived at Raleigh-Durham International Airport about 1 a.m. The players got in their vehicles at the airport and left.
TheNorth Carolina Highway Patrolsays Chiasson died about 4:15 a.m. He was thrown from his Chevy pickup truck which left the road and overturned along Falls of the Neuse Road near the Raleigh Water Treatment Plant.
The Highway Patrol says speed and no seat belt were factors in the accident; aclohol may also be a factor.
"The message is still clear and concise and brought into focus with this incident: put on a seatbelt, don't drink and drive and slow down," says Sgt. Jeff Winstead of the Highway Patrol.
In just three seasons with the Hurricanes organization, Chiasson, 32, was a leader on and off the ice, as a husband and father of three.
"We are shocked and saddened today with the passing of Steve Chiasson," says Jim Rutherford, Hurricanes' president. "This is a tragedy that none of us can put into words. We grieve with Steve's family, his wife Susan and his children."
"There's no other way to put it except for we lost a member of our family and its a very painful time for all of us," says Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice.
"On behalf of our entire team and our families, we extend our deepest sympathies to Susan and the kids. Like all of us, Steve loved the game of hockey. He was a skilled player who took a youthful approach to the game. He was a man of tremendous character and a loving father," says teammate Glen Wesley.
News of Chiasson's death also hit hard in Detroit, where he spent several years as a player.
The Red Wings released the following statement:
"We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with Steve's family."
It was just two years ago, two star players with the Red Wings nearly lost their lives in a limousine accident just days after the team won the Stanley Cup.
One of those players was a teammate of Chiasson's with Detroit in the early 90s.
Aside from his role as a hockey player, Chiasson and his wife, Susan, were both active community leaders during their short time in the Triangle.
The Ontario native is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.
A private funeral is planned. The public is invited to express their condolences by signing registries at Brown-Wynne Funeral Home locations in Raleigh and Cary. From staff and wire reports