The Ontario Hockey League family is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of alumnus John Vigilante who passed away on Wednesday at the young age of 33.
A native of Dearborn, Mich., Vigilante was currently serving as coach of the Detroit Belle Tire Girls 19U program and along with brother Mike, led Belle Tire to the last two 19U Tier 1 state titles in addition to 2017 state and national titles in the 16U age group.
Described as one who could ‘light up a room with a contagious smile and warm heart,’ Vigilante’s OHL playing career with the Plymouth Whalers spanned from 2002-06 after being the club’s 11th round pick in the 2001 OHL Priority Selection. The 6-foot, 195Ib. left-winger registered 246 points (93-153–246) over 254 career regular season games, good for second in career points by players to don the Whalers uniform during the team’s tenure in Plymouth. Despite missing time with a broken finger, Vigilante recorded a career-high 77 points (24-53–77) as Whalers captain during his overage season, representing the club in the 2006 OHL All-Star Game in Belleville while also guiding the team to a West Division title.
Signed as a free agent by the Nashville Predators in December 2005, Vigilante’s pro career spanned seven seasons including four spent in the American Hockey League between the Milwaukee Admirals, Syracuse Crunch, Quad City Flames and Grand Rapids Griffins. His service in both the Milwaukee and Grand Rapids communities earned him ‘Man of the Year’ honours with the respective clubs as he was a regular participant in children’s hospital visits while also volunteering at youth hockey practices. He spent three seasons in Europe from 2010-13, helping lead Asiago to an Italian Championship in 2011 while also making a stop in Sweden during his last season with IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan league.
Vigilante moved behind the bench following his retirement in 2013, serving as an assistant coach alongside Don Elland during the Whalers’ final season in 2014-15.
A lifelong rink rat who was passionate about the game, Vigilante leaves behind parents Debbie and Jerry, three siblings along with nieces and nephews and countless friends and former teammates who were touched by his contributions both on and off the ice.
A visitation, rosary and funeral mass for John Vigilante will take place this coming Sunday and Monday July 22-23 in Dearborn, Mich. Full details can be found at howepeterson.com.