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New Jersey Devils Honor Fallen Hockey Players

Game-used Vasyunov Lokomotiv Yarslavl jersey memorial.

After a long summer of loss in the hockey world, on September 7, 2011, another tragedy hit. The plane carrying the Kontinental Hockey League team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, crashed en route to Belarus for their first game of the season. Only one person survived.

Friends, families and fans all over the world held memorials for the 44 people that passed away.

New Jersey Devils fans held a memorial in the Championship Plaza of Prudential Center to pay respects to the two former Devils, Karel Rachunek and Alexander Vasyunov. The fans in attendance wrote messages on pucks, hats and signs in remembrance.

We celebrate the lives of these two men, as well as all of the victims, with a display on the main concourse near the south tower and across from the Dream Team bench. The signed pucks and hats, from fans, and photos surround a game worn Vasyunov Lokomotiv jersey.

In an effort to help the families of the victims, Ilya Kovalchuk set up a fundraiser. Those who sent $17 to the KHL Yaroslavl Victims’ Families Fund would receive a signed photograph of Kovalchuk. Park East Restaurant in Hazlet, NJ held an autograph session with Kovalchuk yesterday and the proceeds went to the Families Fund.

Hockey wives and girlfriends from around the world also banded together to create Love for Lokomotiv, a site where anyone can provide a donation or purchase one of two types of bracelets that commemorate those who lost their lives.

The hockey world will always remembers those who were on that plane that morning.

Best to Wear #20 – Jay Pandolfo

Jay Pandolfo, Best to Wear #20NUMBER: 20
HEIGHT: 6′ 1″
WEIGHT: 190
POSITION: Left Wing
SHOOTS: Left
BORN: December 27, 1974
BIRTHPLACE: Winchester, Massachusetts

The Devils drafted Jay Pandolfo as the 32nd overall pick in the 1993 draft.  Pandolfo started his career as a Devil during the start of the 98-99 season. Some say his first season with the Devils was his best. He scored 14 goals and 27 points in 70 games.

Pandolfo has two Stanley Cup wins with the Devils. The first one in 2000 and the second in 2003. Pandolfo scored his first career hat trick on October 31, 2007 agaisnt the Tampa Bay Lightning. His first hat trick was also the first hat trick in the Prudential Center.

Jay Pandolfo’s 307 consecutive game streak came to an end on November 30, 2007  with a pelvic injury. He curently holds forth longest franchise record for consecutive games played. The current leader is Travis Zajac. Jay Pandolfo currently plays for the New York Islanders.

Career Stats with the New Jersey Devils
GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
819 99 124 223 15 154 2 7 19 1068 9.2%

Best to Wear #18 – Sergei Brylin

Sergei Brylin, Best to Wear #18NUMBER: 18
HEIGHT: 5’10”
WEIGHT: 190
POSITION: Center
SHOOTS: Left
BORN: January 13, 1974
BIRTHPLACE: Moscow, Russia

When fans think of the New Jersey Devils‘ three Stanley Cups, fans usually think of the same players: Daneyko, Niedermayer, Brodeur, and Stevens. However, Sergei Brylin is also a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the New Jersey Devils.

Brylin was drafted in the second round, 42nd overall, in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils.

After debuting during the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, Brylin played the next 12 seasons with the Devils. While he wasn’t your  top superstar, Brylin brought something valuable to the team.

Brylin was regarded as one of the best utility men in the game. While his game was usually defensive minded, Brylin could always fill any gap that the Devils had. He has played as a scoring forward, center, winger, penalty killer, powerplayer, first liner, fourth liner, he’s done it all. Except, he never was a defenseman.

Brylin signed away from the NHL after the 2007-08 season when the Devils didn’t offer him a deal.

He has made several attempts to come back to the Devils, but they have never been successful.

He currently plays for Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the KHL in Russia.

Career Stats with the New Jersey Devils
GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
765 129 179 308 49 273 34 2 14 1016 12.7%

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Tribute – Championship Plaza

20110910-030829.jpg

A few of the Generals were in attendance last night at the tribute at Championship Plaza for the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team.

Below you will find a post written by General Carlos, originally posted on SpeakingoftheDevils.com.

It includes pictures and a real-time account of what was going on at the memorial.

The tribute at Championship Plaza showed, once again, that hockey fans stand united as a family.

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- You can see the photos I took at the memorial here.

- I spoke to Vlad, who was wearing a Lokomotiv Yaroslavl jersey. It was an Anton But jersey (you can see it in the photo set). Anton But played for Lokomotiv until the ’05-’06 season. He is currently on Metallurg Magnitogorsk’s roster.

Anton But was the New Jersey Devils’ 5th round pick in the 1998 NHL Draft.

Vlad told me that Lokomotiv was his hometown team. He had just recently moved to the area from Arizona, heard about the memorial being planned, and decided to come. It was the first time he’d been to The Rock.

- There were hockey fans here tonight. A lot of different teams were represented, but they were all hockey fans. Everyone was here to pay tribute to members of their hockey family.

- There were about 40 people here at one point. I’d guess a total of about 120-130 people stopped by at some point throughout the evening.

- The Devils are going to attempt to set up an area with the items that were left at Championship Plaza. They are also going to work on a digital memorial.

- You can light a virtual candle for the Lokomotiv team by clicking here.

- About three dozen people here now. Some speaking about their memories of the players, specifically ex-Devil Vasyunov.

- It’s 5:02 pm and there are about 20 people here already. The hockey player statue has quite a few items placed at his stick. (pictures will be posted here later. You can see them on my Twitter feed now)

I will be in Newark for the tribute to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl set up by fans at Championship Plaza.

Follow along here for live updates, and you can also follow along on Twitter by searching the #CPLokomotiv hashtag, following me on Twitter, and following the Devils Generals.

Memorial at Championship Plaza for KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

KHL Memorial at Championship PlazaAs many of you know, two former New Jersey Devils, Alexander Vasyunov and Karel Rachunek, were tragically killed in a plane crash on Wednesday, September 7th, along with 41 other members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League. In honor of these players and coaches, the New Jersey Devils fans are organizing a memorial in Championship Plaza near the statue.

The memorial will be held at 5pm on Friday, September 9th. Fans will be bringing posters, flowers and candles to pay their respects to players and coaches that meant so much to our sport. Please join them if you are available. The event will be held rain or shine, however, if you are planning on bringing posters or pictures, please take steps to preserve them from the elements. This is not only open to Devils fans, all hockey fans are welcome to join us.

On behalf of the Devils Army Generals, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the victims of this tragic accident.

Plane crash kills entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl roster, including 2 familiar names

Alexander VasyunovAs an already tragic summer winds down following Labor Day weekend, most hockey fans were ready to turn the page on a summer of loss and focus on a new season ahead.  Having lost Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak this past summer, the hockey world was shocked again.  One of the Kontinental Hockey League’s premier teams, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, saw its entire team wipe out in moments as the team’s jet crashed early Wednesday morning.  There have been 44 confirmed deaths (reportedly 45 dead), including ex-NHLers Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins, Red Wings draft pick Stefan Liv, Rangers draft pick Jan Marek, as well as the head coach of the team, and former NHL player Brad McCrimmon.  Two former Devils were also lost: Karel Rachunek and youngster Alexander Vasyunov.  Vasyunov, 23, played 18 games in the NHL last season for the Devils, posting five points, including his first and only NHL goal.

Lookomotiv Yaroslavl, like many KHL teams, was preparing for the beginning of a the 2011-2012 season,  scheduled to begin this week.  Their plane was headed to Minsk, Belarus (site of the team’s first game of the season) before mechanical problems reportedly started to disrupt the plane’s flight before eventually crashing.  The crash occured just over a mile from the airport runway and the jet burst into flames.  Alexander Galimov, one of the team’s players, suffered severe burns before reportedly dying in a coma hours later.

As far as the impact on the Devils is concerned, Karel Rachunek played 47 games on the Devils blue line during the 2007-08 season after a pair of stints with the New York Rangers and four year tenure in Ottawa.  The youngster Vasyunov left North America this past summer to return to Russia, but indications through many reports is that Vasyunov enjoyed his time with the Devils and hoped to return to the Devils organization some day.  Lou Lamoriello confirmed Vasyunov’s death this morning.  Vasyunov had spent the past three seasons in the Devils farm system before heading back to play for his hometown KHL team in Yaroslavl.

This has been a summer of tragedy, there’s no doubt about that.  Forty-five lives were lost today during this plane crash, and now a once prominent KHL franchise must completely start over.

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