Mike Greeder, right, took part in a celebration of Toledo hockey with Dino Mascotto, left, and Norm Grinke in 2001.
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A stunned local hockey community is struggling to deal with the sudden loss of "a titanic figure" whose passion was to pass on his experience as a pro and love of the sport to young players.
Mike Greeder, a former captain of the Goaldiggers and current coach at St. Francis de Sales, died of an apparent heart attack at age 48 on Monday.
Greeder was preparing to coach a defensive clinic for youngsters at Tam O'Shanter ice rink in Sylvania at about 5 p.m. But a staff member drove Greeder to Toledo Hospital because he did not look well and was short of breath, according to Tom Cline, general manager of Tam O'Shanter. Greeder died at the hospital about three hours later.
Longtime Northview hockey coach Jim Cooper said the shock has not set in yet.
"This is stunning news," he said. "My heart goes out to the Greeder family, his two sons and the entire St. Francis hockey family. It's a huge loss. He was a titanic figure in the hockey community."
Greeder played under legendary U.S. Olympic coach Herb Brooks at the University of Minnesota and helped the Golden Gophers win a national title in 1979.
He went on to captain the Goaldiggers to a Turner Cup title in the International Hockey League in the 1981-82 season. After retiring in 1985, he turned his attention to coaching young players. He was the coach at Southview for 11 years before coaching at St. Francis over the last four years.
Former Goaldiggers teammate Brian Kinsella said Greeder was "always full of energy and upbeat."
"When we played together he was one of the best captains I've ever been with," Kinsella said. "He never let you get down and he would always find a way to perk you up.
"After he retired, he was the same way with the kids at Tam O. He loved the game. That was his way of giving back."
Cline said he hired Greeder in 1994 to be the rink manager at Tam O'Shanter.
"He was overwhelmed at the offer to do what he considered to be play," Cline said. "He would always say, 'A bad day at the rink is better than a good day anywhere else.'●"
Charlie Fox, who played for Greeder for two years at St. Francis, said Greeder focused on the basics and really looked out for his players.
"I've talked to a lot of my ex-teammates and we're all overwhelmed, shocked and confused," Fox said.
Fox helped the Knights to the state semifinals this past season and will attend the same college that Greeder attended for one year, Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
"He was the main piece of the puzzle," Fox said. "His intelligence of the game of hockey can't be matched."
Storm GM Mike Miller, the Goaldiggers' radio announcer when Greeder played, said he will be missed immensely.
"I'm not sure anyone else is better known in hockey circles than Mike Greeder. The lives he has touched in this community must number in the thousands," Miller said.
Miller said he asked Greeder to be the Storm's assistant head coach last summer.
"He was flattered, but he called me back a few days later and said he could not take it," Miller recalled. "He said he could not look his St. Francis players in the eye and tell them he would not be back to coach the Knights. That told me a lot about Mike Greeder."