DULUTH — A week after a workplace accident sent Scot Kleinendorst into emergency brain surgery, his family decided the former NHL player’s injuries were “simply too devastating to come back from.”
At 4 a.m. Tuesday, he died. He was 59.
“Anyone who knows Scot knows he is a tough, proud, loving, self-sacrificing and no-nonsense kind of guy,” the family wrote on CaringBridge. “He was fearless in so many ways and cared more about everyone else than he did himself.”
Kleinendorst was injured at the UPM Blandin paper plant in Grand Rapids on Dec. 7 and airlifted to Duluth with severe brain trauma and multiple broken bones.
The accident remains under investigation.
An employee died from hot water burns at the plant in 2006, according to federal OSHA records. The company was fined $32,000 and issued three serious violations for the incident. The last OSHA write-up for UPM Blandin was in 2011, when the company paid $450 to settle a health complaint.
Across Minnesota, there have been 25 other workplace-related deaths investigated by the state Department of Labor and Industry in 2019.
Starting in 1982, Kleinendorst played eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers and Washington Capitals. The family of the Grand Rapids native is planning a celebration of life.
“Making the decision to let Scot pass was extremely hard, because of the unspeakable grief and unfillable void we now have to endure,” the family said. “However, making this decision was easy when it came to what Scot would ask us to do for him if he could.”