Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Remembering Pavol Demitra

As if this off-season couldn't get any worse in terms of tragedies, the hockey world was dealt another blow with today's plane crash in Russia. I was shocked to hear that an entire KHL team possibly died and was deeply saddened to read that former LA King Pavol Demitra was one of those lost today.

Pavol Demitra was one of my favorite Kings during his time in LA. The Kings as a whole were mediocre at the time so it was a joy watching Demitra because he was incredibly talented. He was Mr. Automatic in the shootout as the Kings could always count on a tally from him. He's one of a few guys who were predictable in the shootout, yet deadly. As soon as his stick touched the puck he would curve out to the side making a long winding path to the net, his slow pace controlling the shootout as he eventually would make his way to the center and wrist one home.  I couldn't find a video of him destroying the shootout as a King, but here's a clip of his game winning shootout goal in the Vancouver Olympics:

I loved seeing his ice-cold demeanor while playing; he wasn't a mean player, but he looked so freaking serious all the time that when he did slightly smile on occasion it made me smile as well. I remember how well he played alongside Craig Conroy and Alexander Frolov. I think my affinity for Conroy was a result of his on-ice chemistry with Demitra because the following season he didn't fare so well without Pavol in the center. I was upset the Kings didn't keep him for another season or two (I mean, hello, we kept Smyth till he was 58....or something close to that), but the youth movement/rebuilding phase was underway. I thought he played really well in the 2010 Olympics and was secretly hoping he would keep at it till Sochi so I could see him play again.

I usually try not to dwell on these type of tragedies because rarely am I ever familiar with anyone involved. But this one was a bit different because of my passion for the Kings and appreciation for Demitra's contribution to the team and sport. It's a shame he and his teammates died in a plane crash, it's a shame that any tragedy happens and takes away great people. There's really not much you can do in these instances except pay your respects for those that were lost and remind yourself to live your life fully because you just never know when it'll all go away.

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