It has been a very challenging and emotional summer in the world of hockey. What this sport has gone through over the past few months is difficult to comprehend.
Ever since the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup and the Binghamton Senators won the Calder Cup, we've suffered collectively as a hockey family through the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak and now an entire team with the unfathomable passing of the squad from Russia that perished in a plane crash last week.
Wade Belak's passing certainly hit us close to home as he was a member of the Predators organization and thus our extended family. What hit us harder and more personally was the loss of Robert Dietich and Karlis Scrastins in the crash. Robert and Karlis each spent parts of two seasons in Admirals unifurms,
While I didn't personally know Karlis, I asked Doug Agnew, our trainer, and Mike Wojciechowski, our VP of Business Development about him and they told me what a nice person he was. He came from Russia and didn't speak much English but he worked hard to learn and fit into the Milwaukee community. He would do whatever he could in the Milwaukee community to represent the Admirals.
Karlis went on to a nice long NHL career and was a veteran member of his Russian team.
I did know Robert personally. He came to us from Germany as a 20-year old and immediately fit in to the Milwaukee community. He was very well-liked in the locker room and by all of the members of our front office. I will certaiuly miss his friendly smile and willingness to do whatever he could for us and for our fans. Robert never said no to our requests.
My favorite on-ice memory of Robert as an Admiral was his game-winning goal in February, 2010 against Chicago to give us a thrilling overtime win in front of 15,000 fans at the Bradley Center. We won, 7-6, in an unbelievable game. Robert scored that game winner and then skated and jumped into the glass. It is a photo that we have in our offices and now it has even more of a special meaning.
I encourage you to watch this poignant tribute done for the players who lost their lives in Russia by the team they were scheduled to play in their opener.
All of these young men have been taken from their families, their friends and their fans at far too young of an age.
I, along with the rest of the hockey world, look forward to training camps starting this week and hopefully some sense of normalcy returning. These players will never be forgottten and hopefully we will honor their memories through a fanastic hockey season.