Karlis Skrastins Memorial Fan Project

#37 Karlis Skrastins tosses a t-shirt to the fans on fan appreciation night.
Karlis Skrastins

Click the photo above for a photo tribute to Karlis Skrastins.

The outporing of the Defending Big D community of well-wishes and prayers for the Skrastins family has been overwhelming. There is also a sense that the community wants to do something in rememberance for Karlis Skrastins. Brandon mentioned in the fanpost regarding the idea: "Thanks to some great ideas by you guys and awesome initiative by Trevor, DBD is going to be heading up this project." We've put together a plan to allow everyone who wishes to participate in the creation of a 'fanbook' in rememberance of our fallen comrade.

What we wish to do is to collect handwritten notes from fans and organize them into a book that will be bound and given to the family. The idea is to celebrate the ways in which Skrastins touched each of us by writing our best memories or experiences down on paper. We want all fans to write whatever they want to express from their hearts, which is why we are being intentionally vague on what we are looking for.

Once all of the notes are collected, we will be putting them together on pages to be bound. Page design is still to be determined -- if you have ideas, send them to me. We will then put a few ideas for page design/look to a vote by the community so that everyone has a say in how letters/notes are presented.

We're also hoping to organize a Saturday for those interested in helping to put the pages together. Once we figure out the date(s) for this, we will let you all know details. We will also be scanning each note so that we can make a digital copy of the final product for everyone to be able to access and read (as the hardcopy is going to the family.)

For those fans in the DFW area, handwritten notes/letters can be delivered to me in person at any of the following events:

Sept 22nd - preseason game vs Colorado (section 102 row H)
October 5th and 6th - Stars open practices (I'll be there the full practice time)
October 7th - home opener (section 113 row B)
October 21st - Allen Americans home opener (section TBD)
October 27th - Stars home game vs. LA (section 115 row L)
October 29th - Stars home game vs. NJ (section TBD)

And any other dates/times as needed. I will work as I can to meet people that can't make it to one of these so that your handwritten notes/letters can be included. This can be coordinated directly with me, please send me an email or catch me on Twitter if you need to arrange a different delivery date/time and we'll work out what works for both of us.

For those out of town or unable to meet me in person, notes can be sent to me for printing and inclusion into the book via email. Handwritten notes can also be mailed physically to me at the following address:

Taylor Baird
P.O. Box 1970
Addison, TX 75001-1970

Deadline for letters/notes to be included in the book is the end of October. We plan to have the book completely done and ready for delivery to the family by the holiday time. This isn't something we can do in a week's time, nor should we - it deserves appropriate attention to look the best we can make it.

Brandon Worley's tribute to Karlis:

Karlis Skrastins is one of those guys that everyone says "played the right way". He was a dedicated and hard working hockey player who once claimed the title of the NHL Ironman after appearing 487 straight games, a record for a defenseman. He was known not for his offensive prowess but for his ability as a shutdown and solid defenseman who excelled as one of the best in the NHL at blocking pucks.

He was also a husband to Zane and a father to Karolina and Laurena. He was a dedicated family man, working as an NHL player away from his home country of Latvia in order to support his family and had just recently made the decision to play in the KHL after eleven seasons as an NHL player, with stops in Nashville, Colorado, Florida and Dallas.

On Wednesday, along with at least 42 others, Karlis lost his life when the plane carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff. The hockey world has been wracked with yet another tragedy, as not only Karlis was lost but Pavel Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Brad McCrimmon, Josef Vasicek and Jan Marek were also among those killed

There are no words to describe the feeling of despair and loss you feel when someone you love is taken away. Too many times in this world we have to find a way to cope with loss and everyone has their own way of dealing with the grief. Sometimes it doesn't matter if the person is close to you or not, you feel that grief deep inside your soul as if you had just lost your best friend. You feel incredible sadness at the thought of the families that are left behind and how suddenly their lives were taken away, gone in but an instant.

These hockey players and coaches played a sport they loved that brought joy to millions. In tough times like these we find ways to cope with our everyday struggles and many of us turn to sports to find joy that is absent in other aspects of our lives. We deal with jobs, finances, school and the stress that comes with them while finding solace in the joy and fun that sports can bring us.

People like Karlis Skrastins make sports fun. He wasn't the most talented player in the league but he was one of the hardest working men in the NHL and he proved it night in and night out. He sacrificed his body to block shots as a defenseman and was other for nearly every game for eleven seasons -- something rarely found these days. Where Skrastins really made his mark was not on the ice, but off of it.

I had the pleasure of meeting Karlis Skrastins last fall. Like many NHL players he was more than willing to stop and chat. I walked away amazed at how humble he was and how quick to smile he was while chatting with me, a genuinely nice guy whose enthusiasm for hockey was infectious. His teammates felt the same way and everyone will remember Karlis as a man who made an impact on their lives just from having known him, how his quiet intensity drove him every night on the ice and his work ethic drove him off it.

Today I found myself affected by the loss of Karlis Skrastins in a way I would not have guessed might have happened. He was no longer with the Dallas Stars and he only played for two seasons in Dallas, yet he will always be remembered as one of the better guys to have set foot in the Stars locker room. Everyone on this team acknowledges the impact he had on them as people and as players and he will be missed by so, so many.

I only had the pleasure of talking to Karlis Skrastins for just a few minutes and only watched him play for just two years, but the impression he had left upon me will last a lifetime.

Here is his finest moment as a Dallas Star:

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