2018-04-15 / News

Second cardiac event claims life of beloved Michael Abdelhak

‘He was one of the good ones’
BY PHIL FOLEY
810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

LAPEER — Hockey enthusiasts in Lapeer County are saddened this weekend following the death of Michael A. Abdelhak, 48, who died Wednesday of apparent heart failure.

As well as being manager at the Lapeer Home Depot store, Abdelhak was well known as a coach for Lapeer West High School and the Lapeer County Hockey Association (LCHA), as well as a fierce, but respected, competitor on the ice himself.

After playing four games at a hockey tournament with his team, Michigan Xtreme, last weekend Abdelhak’s wife Erika took him to McLaren Lapeer Region after he complained of chest pains Sunday (April 8) afternoon.

Doctors in Lapeer transferred him to McLaren Flint on Monday and Tuesday they put in the first of three stints. Erika said doctors found one ventricle was blocked 99 percent and another was blocked 90 percent.

Erika said that while her husband had been regularly seeing a cardiologist following his first incident, “The damage wasn’t in the plumbing, it was muscle damage. They didn’t know he had a blockage.”

Abdelhak’s wife said he was up and around walking and talking Monday. But his condition deteriorated and by Wednesday they’d put in a third stint. “He never woke up after the third stint,” she said.

Four years ago Abdelhak collapsed on the ice at the Polar Palace during his team’s 35 and Older League season opener. He nearly died from takotsubo cardiomyopathy, also known as “broken heart syndrome.”

A Lapeer police officer, Lapeer firefighter and two other hockey players used an AED the LCHA had purchased for the rink to bring him back. Two days later he was telling people from his hospital bed at McLaren Flint that he’d initially dismissed chest pains for gas.

When he got home from last weekend’s hockey tournament, Abdelhak initially told his wife that he thought his chest pains were from hitting the boards during the competition.

Erika, recalled that after their first date in August 2015, he wrote his name on a piece of paper and told her to Google it. She said she looked up the piece on his neardeath experience, but the next day he sent her flowers and there was “just no going back. It didn’t matter. I can’t tell you what a connection we had when we met.”

“He’s one of players who competed hard every day and there’s not one person you’d who would say anything negative about him,” said LCHA board member and travel coach coordinator Bill Gibbons. He said Abdelhak was in better shape than most people in the league.

More importantly, said Gibbons, Abdelhak was universally well liked. “I have nothing but fond memories of him,” he said.

Both in hockey and outside of it, “Gibbons said, “If anyone needed anything, Mike would always jump in.”

“He treated me like no man ever treated me,” said his wife, adding he was like that with everyone else as well.

Local insurance agent Pat Cronin noted Abdelhak always made a point of saying hello to him and his wife, Mary, and asked how their son, Phil’s, career in hockey was going when they stopped by the Home Depot store.

Cronin said they met when his son was on the Lapeer West Hockey Team, 2003-06 and Abdelhak was one of the assistant coaches. “He was one of the good ones,” Cronin said.

More than anything, Cronin said, Abdelhak cared about the people he touched in his life.

“I’m going to miss him,” he said.

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