Dallas Stars: Karlis Skrastins

The Dallas Stars will honor former defenseman Karlis Skrastins before Saturday's game against Calgary. Here's is the release from the Stars.
The Dallas Stars will honor former defenseman Karlis Skrastins in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday, March 24, prior to the game between the Flames and Stars. Skrastins passed away when the plane carrying his KHL team (Lokomotiv) crashed last September in Russia. He played two seasons for the Dallas Stars (2009-11) among 11 total NHL campaigns.

Skrastins’ wife Zane and their three daughters (Karolina, Laurena and Vivian) will be at the pre-game ceremony which will include a puck drop at center ice. Youngest daughter Vivian was born about a month ago. The Skrastins learned about the pregnancy right before Karlis left for the KHL season in Russia.

The pre-game ceremony will include a “moment of applause” in recognition of the great man, friend, son, husband, father and teammate that Karlis Skrastins was.

The Stars have set up a trust fund for the three Skrastins girls, of which the Dallas Stars players have committed to pool together a significant donation. Stars owner Tom Gaglardi has offered to personally match the players’ final amount.

The Dallas Stars Foundation will host a silent auction during Saturday’s game to exclusively raise funds for the Skrastins girls trust fund. The item to be auctioned is a unique framed set, which includes a Karlis Skrastins autographed jersey, an autographed puck and an autographed picture. The silent auction will take place at the Dallas Stars Foundation table, located at section 101/102 on the main plaza concourse of American Airlines Center. Bidding closes at the end of the second period on Saturday.

“Love for Lokomotiv” bracelets will also be available for sale (at the table and at the Team Store), of which proceeds go towards the families lost in the plane crash.
The Dallas Stars will wear a “37” decal on the back of their helmets this season in memory of defenseman Karlis Skrastins, the former Star who died last week in the crash of a plane carrying the KHL team Lokomotiv.

Skrastins wore No. 37 the last two seasons for the Stars.

The Stars also said they will hold a short remembrance and moment of silence prior to the team’s first home preseason game on Sept. 22 vs. Colorado, remembering Skrastins, former Avalanche players Wade Belak and Ruslan Salei, as well as the other NHL players and alumni who passed away this summer. Salei was killed in the KHL plane crash and Belak was found dead in Toronto earlier this month.

The club also said Monday that defenseman Brad Lukowich, who was scheduled to wear No. 37 this season, will change his number to 47.

A photo tribute to Karlis Skrastins

September, 8, 2011
Shannon Byrne, whose photos have been featured on this blog before, has put together a photo tribute to former Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins, who died in the crash of that Russian plane carrying members of the KHL team Lokomotiv.

You can see the photos here or by clicking on the image below.

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

More Karlis Skrastins reaction

September, 7, 2011
Here is some more reaction to the passing of former Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins, who was one of 43 people killed when a plane carrying the KHL team Lokomotiv crashed shortly after takeoff on Wednesday.

Former Star Brandon Segal had this to say on Twitter:
“Karlis you were an unbelievable player teammate and most of all friend. Words cannot express how much you will be missed.”

Former Star Brian Sutherby, also via Twitter, had this to say:
“Absolutely devastating... Karlis Skrastins was the toughest man I have ever played with. Thoughts & prayers for his wife and two young girls.”

Former Stars coach Marc Crawford, via Twitter:
“Karlis Skrastins 1 of the most Popular, Unselfish players ever in the NHL. Words can't describe his Quality. Thoughts, +Prayers for all KHL.”

Personally, I can’t add much else to what’s been sad about him on this sad day. Everyone knew what kind of player he was. He once played in 495 straight games. There was the shot blocking. He was also a nice guy, always friendly and always willing to take a few minutes if you had a question or two or three. May he rest in peace and my thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children.

Another tragedy struck the NHL on Wednesday and this time it hit the Dallas Stars particularly hard. Former Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins was among at least 43 people killed when a plane carrying members of the KHL hockey team Lokomotiv crashed shortly after takeoff. Several others with NHL ties were on the plane.

“This has been a hard summer for the NHL and this is obviously devastating news again,” said Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk. “It hits home very hard here because Karlis was a great teammate for a lot of these guys and always gave his hardest on his ice and was very much loved by his teammates. He was a great father. This is tragic news. “

Skrastins, 37, played the last two seasons for the Stars, playing 153 games and registering 21 points (5 goals, 16 assists). He became a free agent in July and signed with Lokomotiv.

His former teammates in Dallas took the news hard.

“These guys are devastated,” said Nieuwendyk. “I know Kari Lehtonen came in this morning, heard the news and turned around and went right out of here home. I think he was close with Karlis. Everybody respected the way Karlis played and gave his all every night.”

Players started to hear the news early this morning, along with everybody else.

“It’s so sad,” said defenseman Stephane Robidas. “I heard the news this morning while training at the Michael Johnson center. I saw the report on the news and I was just in shock. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about Karlis. It’s just too bad, leaving his wife and kids like this. It’s pretty sad. I knew (Lokomotiv head coach) Brad McCrimmon, who was with Detroit. It’s been a tough summer for the NHL. There have been a lot of deaths. I don’t know what to say.”

Forward Adam Burish sat next to Skrastins in the Stars’ locker room last season. He received an email about the crash while driving in to work out.

“Horrible news. It scary to think how many flights you’ve been on and how many flights you’ll go on this year. To have someone you know go down on one, it’s pretty scary and sad stuff,” Burish said. “He sat right next to me there last year. The day we start camp we jump on a flight and go to PEI, how do you not think about your buddy, your teammate, the guy you we’re just sitting next to in the locker room was on a flight that went down. You’ll probably always think about it. Anytime you play with a guy, have a relationship with a guy, anytime you go on a flight you may think about it a little bit.”

Burish remembered Skrastins as a fierce competitor on the ice and a gentleman off it.

“He was a kind, kind, kind man,” Burish said. “Quiet, always said ‘Hi’ in the morning and always said ‘Bye’when he left the rink. Just a kind, gentle guy. Just a freak on the ice. The ultimate competitor, played through anything tough. Just a kind, kind guy.”