A junior hockey club family is grieving this week upon hearing news that former Victoria Cougars star and onetime NHL prospect Mitch Fadden died Monday in his sleep at age 29.
No medical reason for the Salmon Arm resident’s death was immediately available. Fadden had been diagnosed with a blood clot in his leg during his minor pro career in 2011 and took blood thinners for the condition at the time, but was reported to have gone off the medication that year.
Gary Boyer, who was Cougars president in 2003-04 when Fadden played at age 15, remembers the energetic, freckle-faced redhead as a player people knew would reach greater heights.
“Back in the day he was your example of just a dynamic young player with so much upside; probably one of the most exciting players that we ever had go through our program,” he said. “He had that uncanny ability to accelerate sideways and … lift you right out of your seat whenever he touched the puck.”
The centre scored 47 goals and added 35 assists for 82 points in 58 games in his one season with the Cougars.
Fadden went on to play five full seasons in the Western Hockey League with stops in Seattle, Lethbridge and Tri-City. He scored 136 goals and added 182 assists for 318 points in 340 WHL games.
He was drafted in the fourth round, 107th overall, by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2007 National Hockey League amateur draft and played one professional season in the American Hockey League and two in the ECHL. He was placed on unconditional waivers by the Lightning in March 2011, after being arrested for possible drunk driving in Salmon Arm and refusing to provide a breath sample.
Fadden played one more season in the ECHL, scoring 40 points in 35 games with the Utah Grizzlies in 2011-12.