Hockey fans already had to say "Rest in Peace" far too many times in 2011 before Wednesday's horrific plane crash in Russia, which came as a kick to the gut.
In the crash's aftermath, there were several nice tributes to former Dallas Star Karlis Skrastins, who was killed along with 43 others when the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl charter flight fell into the Volga River, not the least of which came from Brandon on this site. If you haven't read it yet, go grab some tissues and do so right now.
A few of Skrastins' former teammates posted their thoughts on Twitter shortly after the accident became international news. Brandon Segal, who recently signed with the Chicago Blackhawks, said...
@brandon_segal: "Karlis you were an unbelievable player teammate and most of all friend. Words cannot express how much you will be missed."
Brian Sutherby added...
@BrianSutherby: "Absolutely devastating... Karlis Skrastins was the toughest man I have ever played with. Thoughts & prayers for his wife and two young girls."
Ralph Strangis had this to say...
"@RalphStrangis: "On Karlis - I'm deeply saddened. He was a tremendous guy and one I really enjoyed getting to know. My thoughts are with all the families."
The front office chimed in in the form of Rob Scichili from public relations, who said...
@shickdog: "RIP Karlis Skrastins. One of the nicest guys I have had the pleasure of working with Thoughts and prayers for his wife Zane & his daughters."
And finally, from former head coach Marc Crawford...
@TSNMarcCrawford: "Karlis Skrastins 1 of the most Popular, Unselfish players ever in the NHL. Words can't describe his Quality. Thoughts, +Prayers for all KHL."
After the jump, a national columnist recalls his impressions of Skrastins, a minor update on the Stars sale, Jen Floyd Engel rethinks her stance on enforcers and can you have a news conference when no real news comes from it?
- [Editor's Note: This is a story from Jeff Chick. Our apologies for the confusion.] I don't know what his job is or how his company has an association with the Stars, but if you need a good cry, this is the entry for you. He was apparently assigned to drive Skrastins' family to the airport Wednesday afternoon as they were flying over to Europe because of the crash. [A Chick's Perspective]
- Most Stars fans got to know Skrastins as a grizzled veteran shot blocker who went about his business quietly. But Nashville Predators broadcaster Pete Weber remembers when he was a fresh-faced 24-year-old who "got the nickname 'Sanks,' because he was always thanking coaches, staffers, and his teammates." That detail just... ugh. [USA Today]
- Sean Hartnett only met Skrastins once, but he left a big impression. [CBS Local]
- The NHL did a nice job of trying to highlight each former player who was killed. Here's their take on Skrastins. [NHL.com]
- A little bit more detail on where we are in the Stars sale. Gaglardi has apparently struck a deal with one of the biggest lenders but still has to deal with a second group. [FINAlternatives.com]
- Jen Floyd Engel has always been a proponent of fighting in the NHL, but recent events have made her question what the human cost might be. Mike Modano makes an appearance about midway through, and while his first quote comes off a little crass, he does have a relatively thoughtful opinion on the subject. [FoxSports.com]
- This doesn't deal directly with the Stars but discusses the economics and possible lasting impact of the Texas Rangers massive television deal. It addresses both the potential of the DFW market and the dramatic impact television revenue can have on a team's financial health and on-field success. [Grantland.com]
- This article didn't get a lot of attention because of the crash, but Michael Russo put together a well reported and terrifying look at how Derek Boogaard fell into and eventually succumbed to an addiction to painkillers. There's a lot of attention focused on getting performance-enhancing drugs out of sports, but some of the most dangerous things athletes do involve legal, necessary drugs being used for the wrong reasons. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
- Can something be a news conference if there's no real news revealed? The Pittsburgh Penguins set out to prove the answer is yes Wednesday when they made Sidney Crosby available to the media for the first time since last spring. Is it wrong that I'm angry this was the top item on NHL.com, the lead hockey item on SportsCenter and that when I flipped on my XM Radio around 2 p.m., the conference was being replayed on NHL Home Ice? Not that I have anything against Crosby, and I know they had this scheduled in advance so I don't even really blame the Penguins, but this could have happened on better days... [Yahoo Sports]