Pavol Demitra

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Pavol Demitra
PavolDemitra.jpg
Born (1974-11-29)29 November 1974
Dubnica nad Váhom, Czechoslovakia
Died 7 September 2011(2011-09-07) (aged 36)
Yaroslavl, Russia
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Center
Shot Left
Played for HC Dukla Trenčín (Cze-1/SlEx)
Ottawa Senators
St. Louis Blues
Los Angeles Kings
Minnesota Wild
Vancouver Canucks
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
National team  Slovakia
NHL Draft 227th overall, 1993
Ottawa Senators
Playing career 1992–2011

Pavol Demitra Slovak pronunciation: [ˈpavol ˈdɛmɪtra] (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.

On 7 September 2011, the eve of the 2011–12 KHL season, a plane carrying the Lokomotiv players and coaching staff crashed shortly after takeoff. 44 passengers, including Demitra, died as a result.[1][2][3]

Playing career[edit]

Czechoslovakia[edit]

Demitra began playing at the men's level with ZTS Dubnica in Czechoslovakia's second-tier league; he recorded 23 points (13 goals and 10 assists) over 28 games. The following season, Demitra joined HC Dukla Trenčín of the premier Czechoslovak Extraliga in 1992–93, where he scored 11 goals and 28 points in 46 games. After the season, Demitra was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the ninth round, 227th overall in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. He came to be considered one of the best draft steals in NHL history.[4]

Ottawa Senators[edit]

Demitra began the 1993–94 season with the Ottawa Senators, and in his first NHL game on 9 October 1993, Demitra scored on St. Louis Blues goaltender Curtis Joseph for his first ever NHL goal and point in a 7–5 loss. He played in 12 games for Ottawa during the season, scoring a goal and two points. Most of the 1993–94 was spent with the Prince Edward Island Senators of the AHL, as Demitra had 18 goals and 41 points in 41 games for the team.

Demitra spent most of the 1994–95 with PEI, where in 61 games, Demitra had 26 goals and 74 points to finish third in team scoring. In five playoff games, Demitra had seven assists. Demitra also spent time with Ottawa, as he scored four goals and seven points in 16 games.

He began the 1995–96 season with PEI, as in 48 games, Demitra put up 28 goals and 81 points, which earned him a promotion back to the NHL. With Ottawa, Demitra had seven goals and 17 points in 31 games.

To start the 1996–97 season, Demtira was a contract hold-out with Ottawa. He played a game with HC Dukla Trenčín of the Slovak Extraliga, getting a goal and two points, before joining the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL. With the Thunder, Demitra had eight goals and 21 points in 22 games. On 27 November 1996, the Senators parted ways with Demitra, as Ottawa traded him to the St. Louis Blues for Christer Olsson.[5]

St. Louis Blues[edit]

The St. Louis Blues assigned Demitra to the Grand Rapids Griffins of the IHL, where in 42 games, Demitra had 20 goals and 50 points. He was called up to the Blues, and played his first game with the club on 17 March 1997, getting no points in a 3–2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. Demitra scored his first two goals with St. Louis on 3 April 1997, scoring twice against Tommy Salo in a 5–5 tie with the New York Islanders. He finished the season appearing in eight games with St. Louis, scoring three goals. Demitra made his NHL playoff debut on 16 April 1997, recording his first playoff point, an assist, in the Blues 2–0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. On 22 April 1997, Demitra scored his first playoff goal, beating Red Wings goaltender Mike Vernon, and added two assists in a 4–0 win over Detroit. Overall, Demitra had a goal and four points in six playoff games.

Demitra made the NHL full-time in 1997–98, as he played in 61 games with St. Louis, scoring 22 goals and 52 points to finish fifth in team scoring. In 10 playoff games, Demitra had three goals and six points.

The 1998–99 was a break-out season for Demitra, as he finished tenth in NHL scoring with 89 points, as he scored 37 goals and added 52 assists in 82 games. Demitra appeared in the 1999 NHL All-Star Game held in Tampa Bay, Florida, scoring a goal for the World team in an 8–6 loss to North America. In the playoffs, Demitra added five goals and nine points in 13 games.

Demitra continued his success in 1999–2000, as he scored 27 goals and 75 points in 71 games to lead the Blues in scoring once again. Demitra played in the 2000 NHL All-Star Game held in Toronto, Ontario, where he scored two goals in a 9–4 World victory over North America. Demitra also scored his first career hat trick, scoring three goals against the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim on 12 February 2000 in a 6–3 Blues victory. Demitra suffered a season-ending injury on 24 March 2000, and missed the playoffs. After the season, he was awarded the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy after he accumulated only eight penalty minutes throughout the season.

Injuries cut short Demitra's season in 2000–01 when he appeared in only 44 games with St. Louis. He scored 20 goals and 45 points to finish fifth in team scoring. He scored a hat trick and added two assists for a five point game against the New York Rangers on 20 December 2000 in a 6–3 win. Less than a week later, on 26 December 2000, Demitra had another high scoring game, scoring two goals and four points against the Columbus Blue Jackets in a 5–0 victory. On 30 December 2000, Demitra suffered an injury, however, he came back with the team late in the season, and appeared in 15 playoff games, scoring two goals and six points.

In 2001–02, Demitra was healthy, as he appeared in all 82 games for St. Louis, scoring 35 goals and 78 points to lead the team in scoring and finish seventh in the league scoring race. Demitra had a league high ten game-winning goals. He had a four point night against his former team, the Ottawa Senators, on 27 November 2001, scoring two goals and two assists in a 4–2 victory. Demitra appeared in the 2002 NHL All-Star Game held in Los Angeles, California, however, he was held off the scoresheet in an 8–5 World win over North America. In the playoffs, Demitra appeared in 10 games, scoring four goals and 11 points. He had a four point night against the Detroit Red Wings on 7 May 2002, scoring a goal and three assists in the Blues 6–1 victory.

The 2002–03 was Demitra's most productive in the NHL, as he set a career high with 93 points, which placed him sixth in NHL scoring, as Demtira scored 36 goals and 57 assists in 78 games. He had a hat trick and a season high four points on 29 November 2002 in a 7–2 win over the Calgary Flames. In the playoffs, Demitra had two goals and six points in seven games.

Demitra had a disappointing 2003–04 season, scoring 23 goals and 58 points, his lowest totals since his injury plagued 2000–01 season, in 68 games. In the playoffs, Demitra had a goal in five contests. This would be his final season with the Blues, as Demitra left the team fifth in franchise scoring with 493 points in 494 games.

HK Dukla Trenčin[edit]

With the 2004–05 NHL lockout cancelling the season, Demitra signed with HK Dukla Trenčín of the Slovak Extraliga on 17 September 2004. Demitra led the league in scoring with 28 goals and 82 points in 54 games. Demitra scored four goals and 17 points in 12 playoff games with the team.

Los Angeles Kings[edit]

On 2 August 2005, Demitra signed a three year, $13.5 million contract with the Los Angeles Kings.[6] On 5 October 2005, Demitra played his first game with the Kings, scoring an assist in a 5–4 loss to the Dallas Stars. The next night, on 6 October 2005, Demitra scored his first goal with his new team, scoring against David LeNeveu of the Phoenix Coyotes in a 3–2 win. Demitra had three four-point games during the season, including one on 22 November 2005 against his former team, the St. Louis Blues in a 6–3 Los Angeles win. Demitra missed 24 games with injuries, including an eye problem, during the season. In 58 games during the season, Demitra had 25 goals and 62 points to finish third in team scoring. On 24 June 2006, Los Angeles traded Demitra to the Minnesota Wild for Patrick O'Sullivan and a first round draft pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

Minnesota Wild[edit]

Demitra joined the Wild and fellow Slovak Marián Gáborík for the 2006–07 season. Demitra played his first game with the Wild on 5 October 2006, recording two assists in a 3–2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. In his next game on 7 October 2006, Demitra scored his first goal with Minnesota, scoring against Tomáš Vokoun of the Nashville Predators in a 6–5 victory. Demitra finished the season tied for first in team scoring, as he had 25 goals and 64 points in 71 games. The 64 points were the highest by Demitra since 2002–03. Demitra played in his first playoff game with Minnesota on 11 April 2007, scoring a goal against Ilya Bryzgalov of the Anaheim Ducks in a 2–1 loss. Demitra appeared in five playoff games, scoring a goal and four points.

Demitra was named the captain of the Wild for the month of October 2007[7] as part of the Wild's rotating captaincy to begin the 2007–08 season. Demitra had a tough season, scoring only 15 goals, his lowest total since 1996–97, and 54 points through 68 games as he finished fourth in team scoring. In the playoffs, Demitra had a goal and three points in six games. At the end of the season, he became an unrestricted free agent.

Vancouver Canucks[edit]

Pavol Demitra with the Vancouver Canucks.

On 10 July 2008, Demitra signed a two-year, $8 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks.[8] He played in his first game as a Canuck on 9 October 2008, getting no points in a 6–0 win over the Calgary Flames. In his next game, also against Calgary, Demitra scored his first goal with Vancouver, the game winning overtime goal against Miikka Kiprusoff in a 5–4 win. He finished the season with 20 goals and 53 points in 69 games, finishing fourth in team scoring. Demitra appeared in his first playoff game with Vancouver on 15 April 2009, recording an assist in a 2–1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Demitra scored his first playoff goal with the Canucks on 30 April 2009, scoring against Nikolai Khabibulin of the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5–3 victory. On 2 May 2009, Demitra suffered a shoulder injury against the Blackhawks that would end his season. In six playoff games, Demitra had a goal and three points.

The 2009–10 would be a tough season on Demitra, as he missed most of the regular season with the shoulder injury that occurred in the 2009 playoffs. In 28 games, Demitra had three goals and 16 points, his lowest totals since 1996–97. In the playoffs, Demitra had a three point game against the Los Angeles Kings on 23 April 2010, helping Vancouver to a 7–2 win. Overall, Demitra appeared in 11 playoff games, scoring two goals and six points. After the season, he became an unrestricted free agent. This would mark the end of Demitra's NHL career. He'd played in 847 career games, and scored 304 goals with 464 assists for 768 points.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl[edit]

Demitra joined Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL on 15 July 2010. In his first season with Lokomotiv, Demitra scored 18 goals and 60 points in 54 games to finish fifth in league scoring. He was named Forward of the Month in January 2011. In 18 playoff games with Yaroslavl, Demitra had six goals and 15 assists for 21 points which placed him second in KHL playoff scoring.

Demitra returned to the team for the 2011–12 season, however, on 7 September 2011, he was killed in a plane crash along with the entirety of the team roster and most of the flight crew.

International play[edit]

Henrik Sedin Pavol Demitra faceoff.jpg
Demitra faces off with Henrik Sedin (both of the Vancouver Canucks) during the 2010 Olympics
Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for  Slovakia
World Championships
Bronze 2003 Finland
Competitor for  Czechoslovakia
World Junior Championships
Bronze 1993 Sweden

Demitra was named to Team Slovakia for the 2010 Winter Olympics in his NHL hometown Vancouver. On 18 February 2010, he scored in the seventh round of a shootout to help Slovakia beat Russia in the round robin.[9] In the semi-finals against hosts Canada, Slovakia trailed 3–0 after two periods but rallied with 2 goals in the third period, and Demitra nearly scored with 9 seconds remaining in regulation but his shot was stopped by Canucks teammate Roberto Luongo, and the save was dubbed the "Glove from Above".[10] In the bronze medal game against Finland, Demitra assisted twice and scored once in the second period to help his team to a 3–1 lead, though they could not hold on as Finland scored four times (including an empty-net goal) in the third period to claim bronze. Slovakia was ranked in fourth place, as Demitra led the tournament in points with 10 and tied for the lead in assists with seven. His play in the tournament led him to a selection to the all-star team.[11]

Demitra played for Czechoslovakia in the following competitions:

Demitra played for Slovakia in the following competitions:

Awards and achievements[edit]

Death[edit]

Tribute to Pavol Demitra, Ondrej Nepela Arena, Bratislava, Slovakia.

The 2011 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash occurred on 7 September 2011, at 4:02 PM local time, when a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger aircraft, carrying the entire hockey team of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), crashed near Yaroslavl, Russia, on its way to Minsk, Belarus, to start the 2011–12 KHL season.[1]

The club's entire roster was killed in the plane crash. The airplane caught fire and crashed shortly after take-off, a mere 4 kilometers from the Tunoshna airport. Preliminary reports said that 43 of the 45 passengers on board had been killed, including the entire roster and 4 youth players,[12] and that the remaining one, Alexander Galimov, was in critical condition. However, Galimov died a few days later.[13] Demitra's agent, Matt Keator, confirmed his client's death.[14][15]

Demitra is survived by his wife Maja and two children, Lucas and Zara. He was predeceased by his infant son, Tobias.[16]

Following his death, the elementary school in Dubnica nad Váhom, which he had attended, and the ice hockey stadium in Trenčín, where he started his successful career together with famous Slovak ice players Zdeno Chára, Marián Hossa, Marcel Hossa, and Marián Gáborík were named after him.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1991–92 ZTS Dubnica CSFR-2 28 13 10 23 12
1992–93 ZTS Dubnica CSFR-2 4 3 0 3 2
1992–93 HC Dukla Trenčín Czechoslovak 46 10 18 28
1993–94 Ottawa Senators NHL 12 1 1 2 4
1993–94 PEI Senators AHL 41 18 23 41 8
1994–95 Ottawa Senators NHL 16 4 3 7 0
1994–95 PEI Senators AHL 61 26 48 74 23 5 0 7 7 0
1995–96 Ottawa Senators NHL 31 7 10 17 6
1995–96 PEI Senators AHL 48 28 53 81 44
1996–97 HC Dukla Trenčín Slovak 1 1 1 2
1996–97 Las Vegas Thunder IHL 22 8 13 21 10
1996–97 Grand Rapids Griffins IHL 42 20 30 50 24
1996–97 St. Louis Blues NHL 8 3 0 3 2 6 1 3 4 6
1997–98 St. Louis Blues NHL 61 22 30 52 22 10 3 3 6 2
1998–99 St. Louis Blues NHL 82 37 52 89 16 13 5 4 9 4
1999–00 St. Louis Blues NHL 71 28 47 75 8
2000–01 St. Louis Blues NHL 44 20 25 45 16 15 2 4 6 2
2001–02 St. Louis Blues NHL 82 35 43 78 46 10 4 7 11 6
2002–03 St. Louis Blues NHL 78 36 57 93 32 7 2 4 6 2
2003–04 St. Louis Blues NHL 68 23 35 58 18 5 1 0 1 4
2004–05 HC Dukla Trenčín Slovak 54 28 54 82 39 12 4 13 17 14
2005–06 Los Angeles Kings NHL 58 25 37 62 42
2006–07 Minnesota Wild NHL 71 25 39 64 28 5 1 3 4 0
2007–08 Minnesota Wild NHL 68 15 39 54 24 6 1 2 3 2
2008–09 Vancouver Canucks NHL 69 20 33 53 20 6 1 2 3 2
2009–10 Vancouver Canucks NHL 28 3 13 16 0 11 2 4 6 4
2010–11 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL 54 18 42 60 29 18 6 15 21 4
NHL totals 847 304 464 768 284 94 23 36 59 34

All-Star Games[edit]


Year Location   G A P
1999 Tampa 1 0 1
2000 Toronto 2 0 2
2002 Los Angeles 0 0 0
All-Star totals 3 0 3

Transactions[edit]

Source: "NHL.com – Players: Pavol Demitra, Canucks". NHL.com. Retrieved 2009-02-11. 

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Wayne Gretzky
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
2000
Succeeded by
Joe Sakic
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Mark Parrish
Minnesota Wild captain
October 2007
Succeeded by
Brian Rolston