SAN JOSE - The tragic, fatal plane crash involving the Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in early September shook the hockey world, but affected Sharks center Michal Handzus more than most.
Handzus and former NHL player Pavol Demitra were not just countrymen, but former teammates in St. Louis for three years and very close friends who served in each others weddings. Demitra was the most recognizable NHL name among the fallen, which also included Sharks prospect Daniil Sobchenko.
The Sharks are paying tribute to the Lokomotiv team with a special decal on their helmets.
A bunch of the guys played with a bunch of the guys on the plane, so its just to kind of commemorate that friendship and that we still think of them, said Joe Thornton.
Thornton said Handzus, who attended Demitras funeral in their native Slovakia, came up with the idea.
All of the guys said, yeah, weve got to put something on there, said Thornton. Handzus was good friends with Pavol and its good for the rest of the team to support Zeus in this time.
I think its great. Its a big tragedy and obviously there was one player here from this organization, so its really nice that everybody can recognize that, said Handzus.