“It is with great sadness that we learn of the sudden passing of Pavol Demitra and his colleagues of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club today. Pavol was dedicated and passionate about his young family and the game of hockey. Pavol was a valued teammate and member of our organization and will be sorely missed. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Demitra family and their friends so affected by this tragedy.”
Pavol Demitra (29 November 1974 – 7 September 2011) was a Slovak professional ice hockey player. He played sixteen seasons in the National Hockey League (NHL), two in the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League (CFIHL)/Slovak Extraliga and one in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Known as an offensive player, Demitra was a first- or second-line forward throughout his career.
After a season with HC Dukla Trenčín in the CFIHL, Demitra was selected 227th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators. He subsequently left Slovakia to join the Senators organization and played three seasons between the NHL and the American Hockey League with Ottawa's minor league affiliate, the PEI Senators. Demitra began the 1996–97 season in a contract holdout with the Senators, resulting in him being traded to the St. Louis Blues in November 1996. After spending the majority of his first season with St. Louis organization in the International Hockey League, he secured a regular roster spot with the Blues in 1996–97. Demitra spent his most successful seasons with St. Louis, being named to three NHL All-Star Games (1999, 2000 and 2002) and winning the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy in 2000. He achieved the 30-goal mark three times and the 90-point mark once with the Blues. Due to the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Demitra returned to HC Dukla Trenčín for one season. Upon returning to the NHL the following year, he signed as a free agent with the Los Angeles Kings. After one year with Los Angeles, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild, where he played on the team's top line with winger Marián Gáborík. In July 2008, he became an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
Demitra left the NHL after a two-year stint with the Canucks, joining Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League. Demitra spent the entire 2010–11 KHL season with Lokomotiv, netting 18 goals and 43 assists in 54 games.
In international competition, Demitra began his career with Czechoslovakia. He won a gold medal at the 1992 IIHF European U18 Championship and a bronze medal at the 1993 IIHF World U20 Championship. After the country split in 1993, Demitra began competing for Slovakia. Beginning in 1996, he played in six IIHF World Championships, winning a bronze medal in 2003 and captaining his country in 2011. In 1996 and 2004, Demitra participated in the NHL-sanctioned World Cup. He was also a three-time Olympian and played his first tournament in 2002. Four years later, he captained Slovakia and in 2010, where he led all scorers in points and was named to the tournament's All-Star Team.
In 40 years of Vancouver Canucks hockey, the team has seen its share of players and staff.
Some donned a Canucks sweater for a year, others a decade and a select few were with the organization their entire careers.
Wayne Maki, Larry Ashley, Gary Lupul and Luc Bourdon all spent time in Vancouver, time that was, tragically, cut short prematurely for all four extraordinary individuals.
Their lives ended too soon, but they will forever be Canucks.
Rick Rypien (May 16, 1984 – August 15, 2011) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He spent four seasons with the Regina Pats, a major junior team in the Western Hockey League before being signed by the Moose in 2005. He joined the Canucks at the start of the 2005–06 NHL season, and remained with the club until the end of the 2010–11 NHL season. Rypien had signed with the Winnipeg Jets prior to the start of the 2011–12 NHL season. His death was sudden and unexpected. He will be dearly missed by his family, his many friends and the fans who cheered him on throughout his hockey career. May he rest in peace.
February 16, 1987 – May 29, 2008
Luc Bourdon first emerged onto the national stage and into the hearts of the Canucks family when the then 19-year old was drafted 10th overall in 2005 after impressing Canucks management with his raw ability as a member of Val d’Or of the QMJHL. Bourdon played 36 games in Vancouver, scoring two goals, before he passed away in a motor vehicle accident at age 21.
Alex Burrows, Bourdon’s former teammate and best friend:
“Luc was a great friend of mine. When he first came in, you could see the way he played with confidence at a young age that he had a great future ahead of him and he would have really evolved into a top player in the league. You look at when he played World Junior with Chris Letang and he was better than Letang then and now you look at Letang in Pittsburgh, he’s one of the top young D-men in the league. Obviously it would be awesome to play with Luc now. He was such a fun person to be around, he was really happy every time he stepped on the ice, he really liked Vancouver as an organization, the city and the team.”
“Every game, every national anthem I always think about him and I’m hoping that he’s looking down on me and that he’s able to help me out and able to help the team out.”
Luc Bourdon was a very talented young hockey player ... but more importantly, he was a kind, wonderful young man. He was only 21 years old when he lost his life and is dearly missed by his family, friends, team-mates and fans.
Barry James Wilkins (February 28, 1947 - June 26, 2011) was a professional ice hockey player who played in the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association during the 1960s and 1970s. He is probably best known for scoring the first-ever goal for the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL on October 9, 1970
Wilkins was signed by the Boston Bruins as a teenager and came through their junior system where he was a teammate of Bobby Orr and Wayne Cashman with the Oshawa Generals. He was recalled from junior to make his NHL debut in 1966–67, playing a single game for the Bruins, and turned pro the following season. He would spend most of the next three seasons with the Oklahoma City Blazers, Boston's top minor-league affiliate, but found it difficult to crack an increasingly deep Bruin roster. He scored his first NHL goal in his only appearance during the 1968–69 season, and appeared in 6 games for the 1969–70 Bruin team which would ultimately win the Stanley Cup. Barry Wilkins is currently ill with cancer as of June 19th 2011 Fathersday. (May he be remembered, Forever.) By the 1969–70 season, Wilkins was a dominant defender in the CHL with Oklahoma City, finishing the year with 52 points and 204 penalty minutes, and he would receive his big break when he was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the 1970 NHL Expansion Draft. He started his Canuck career with a bang, scoring the team's first-ever goal (one of only 5 he scored all season) in their first game, against the Los Angeles Kings on October 9, 1970.
April 19, 1959 – July 18, 2007
Career: 1979 to 1986
From Legends of Hockey – Lupul signed as a free agent with the Canucks in 1979. The local product was a part-time player for the Canucks for four seasons and became a crowd favorite at the Pacific Coliseum. In 1982, he scored five points in ten games as the club reached the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in franchise history.
Thomas Gradin, a former teammate and scout with Lupul:
“He was a very Europeanized Canadian. Very agile, good hands, good vision, maybe not predictable but that was an advantage because you couldn’t calculate what he was going to do. Very nice guy, friendly, very warm hearted and funny, a very funny person. A great guy to be around, he for sure made a mark.
“I scout with him as well; you should have read his reports, we had so much fun reading them. He would say things like the “booties are fast,” meaning a player skated fast and hands he called “mitts,” his “mitts are slow” or “he has stiff mitts.” We had a lot of fun together.”
March 22, 1953 - September 16, 1995
Larry Ashley went to work at age 19 for the WHA Ottawa Nationals and followed that franchise to Toronto and Birmingham. For 16 years Ashley was a head trainer in the National Hockey League. The last 14 years of his career were spent with the Canucks, where he supervised and coordinated all medical aspects for the team, both on and off the ice, before he passed away following a valiant battle with cancer.
Canucks head athletic trainer Mike Burnstein:
“He was a great ambassador for young athletic trainers like myself coming through the American Hockey League and the NHL. He was someone who paved the road for NHL athletic trainers in a lot of ways and he did a lot of good things for people like myself and other therapists around the league. He was someone we all looked up to and appreciated all the work he did for athletic trainers.”
Former Canucks equipment manager Gerry Dean (from Canucks at Forty):
“He touched a tremendous number of people. That’s reflected in the fact he was named president of the Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society (PHATS) and also served as president of the NHL Trainers’ Association.”
From Legends of Hockey – “In 1970-71, the Vancouver Canucks claimed the younger Maki brother in the Expansion Draft, and he played a full-time role with the new franchise until partway through the 1972-73 season. Wayne Maki was diagnosed with brain cancer on December 14, 1972. He never stepped onto the ice again.”
Former Canucks teammate Orland Kurtenbach:
“We started out as just teammates, but then it turned out to be more than that because when Wayne got sick, when they found cancer, it became a different situation as time developed and I got more involved with his family.”
“Wayne was a guy that was very concerned about his family and always tried to do well as far as hockey is concerned. When he got the chance to play for the Canucks, he did very, very well and he was very dedicated.”
“Wayne, Murray Hall and I played together and we just clicked as a line. There aren’t too many situations where you get guys like the Sedins that worked so well together, but we did, we really played well together. “
“His passing was very traumatic for a lot of us. He was a good competitor, he was somebody that family was very important to and sometimes things aren’t fair. “