Hockey’s summer from hell continues as word came out this morning about a plane crash in Russia. The KHL’s Lokomitiv team was on that plane, with 43 dead and two surviviors.
This offseason has been a heartbreaking one, but this tragedy has really, truly torn me apart. After mourning Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak, I now know what it’s like to truly lose one of my own.
Karlis Skrastins was on that plane. Former Star, Karlis Skrastins. To be honest, his death is affecting me more than anything else that’s happened this offseason. I’ve never lost a Star so fresh in my mind. Peter Zezel is the last one I can think of, and he played for them a long time ago. But Skrastins. Just five months ago, he was part of the push to the playoffs. Skrastins, like that playoff push, lasted up until the very last game of the season, because that’s how Scratch was. Durable. Reliable. Amazing.
He was a real iron man, who rarely missed a game. A stay-at-home defenseman who kept us in the running long after we should have been.
My favorite memory of Karlis Skrastins remains the game in fall 2010 when he scored two goals against the Detroit Red Wings. Here you had Karlis Skrastins, a guy who never scores. Ever. And he scored two goals in one game, his only goals on the year. I just remember exclaiming how crazy it was, and it cemented my already burgeoning love for him.
I really, really wanted him to stay with the Stars, but obviously that didn’t happen. And so this horrible, horrible event did.
Also killed in the crash was Pavol Demitra, one of those “damn Canucks,” yet one of the few that I ever liked. Less notable are the 40+ others, who I will mourn just as greatly as Scratch and Demitra.
I can barely form words about this, and I’ve been shaking and crying ever since I heard the news. The world needs to stop treating our hockey family so cruelly. Please.
RIP you guys.
And Scratch…a Dallas Star is forever. You will be missed.