I don't know that there are words to explain the emotions that go through your mind when such a tragic loss occurs. The loss of friends and competitors that loved the game of hockey as much as I did, hurts even if when you don't know them. I did know three of the players and knowing does make it worse. I played for 1 month with Igor Korolev in Winnipeg in the mid '90s through training camp. Brad McCrimmon was my coach in Switzerland in a international tournament while I was playing for Team Canada. Both acquaintances, colleges and great people.
Demitra joined the Blues the same year I did. We both battled to make the team through camp in '97, but it was clear Pav had some special years ahead of him with the Blues. Living in Chesterfield, Pavol would pick me up for games in his beloved Corvette, and we would cruise down to the arena, music blasting. We sat beside each other in the locker room and often talked about opposing goalies and their weaknesses or great goals from last nights video highlights around the league. We were almost always the last ones to leave the practice ice, constantly engaging in shootout competitions on any goalie that would dare to outlast us. My wife and I would regularly join him at his favorite place to eat, the Macaroni Grill. He ate there at least once a day, it was part of the job. Eating wasn't about dining, just get in and out with a great meal. It wouldn't surprise me if there were photos of him on the wall. Pavol was particularly friendly with my father when he would come visit. When my parents were in town, he would always find time to visit with my dad, sharing stories and talking hockey. Pavol ate, slept and breathed hockey. Many of us do. He became very good at playing too, putting up some fantastic NHL numbers. He was a great player and many of us considered him a great friend. My heart goes out to his wife Maja, and 2 children. While I can't find appropriate words, I know the families will not be able to make sense of the coming reality. I hope for their peace, and ask that you send your thoughts and prayers to those who have lost husbands, fathers, and friends. We will always remember. Terrible day for Hockey. Miss you Pav!