Barry Potomski, seen in this 1999 photo playing for the Adirondack Red Wings, died Tuesday. He was 38 years old.
SPECIAL TO THE BLADE/DAVE OXFORD
Former Toledo Storm enforcer Barry Potomski died Tuesday at the age of 38.
Potomski collapsed and died while participating in a spin class at a fitness center in Windsor, according to The Windsor Star newspaper.
Potomski played for the Storm in 1992-93 and in part of the 1993-94 season. He spent the first season of a nine-year pro hockey career in Toledo.
Potomski went on to play 68 games in the NHL for the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks. The rugged right winger racked up 227 penalty minutes and had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in those games.
Potomski, who was born in Windsor, helped lead the Storm to its first Riley Cup in 1993. He was known for his big hits, fighting ability, and overall physicality.
Potomski's teammate Iain Duncan, who also was known as a policeman on the ice, said Potomski was the Storms' "resident tough guy."
"Barry was a great teammate," Duncan said. "He'd do anything on or off the ice for you. He was the team clown. But at the same time you want him in your corner when you go into battle. Poto was a good guy. We've lost a good guy. He was far too young to go."
Potomski, who was listed at 6-1 and 222 pounds during his career, had 184 penalty minutes in 43 games with the Storm in 1992-93. He also scored five goals and had 18 assists that season. In the playoffs, Potomski had five goals, two assists, and 73 penalty minutes.
He played in just 13 games in 1993-94 for the Storm and had 81 penalty minutes. He was called up to Adirondack of the American Hockey League for most of that season.
"He knew his job and he did it very well," Duncan said. "He'd go through a wall for you."
Duncan, who had played parts of four seasons in the NHL before he came to Toledo, said he showed Potomski what it took to be an enforcer.
"Barry was on his way up while I was on the way down," Duncan said. "I think I showed him the way a few times. But he was smart enough to know what he needed to do to get to the next level. He did his job and created a life for himself in pro hockey."
Potomski, who had lived in Phoenix and owned a landscaping company since his retirement in 2001, had just recently moved back to Windsor.
He had been hired as an assistant coach for a junior hockey team in Ontario.
The cause of death is under investigation and an autopsy is scheduled.
His sister Wendy told the Windsor Star it was "an absolute shock."
"There was nothing he was complaining about," she said.
Potomski's stunning death comes on the heels of the untimely passing of another former NHL player from Windsor. Former Detroit Red Wings enforcer Bob Probert died last summer at the age of 45 after suffering chest pains.