During the NHL Media Tour in New York last week, Pavel Datsyuk spoke with a heavy heart. He friend and former Detroit Red Wings teammate Ruslan Salei was one of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl players killed in the plane crash that claimed the lives of 44 people.
Some teams are adopting patches and stickers to honor those hockey lost. As training camp begins for the Red Wings, Datsyuk revealed his tribute to Salei this preseason:
According to the Red Wings, Datsyuk, usually No. 13 in your programs, "will wear number 24 throughout the preseason as a tribute to Ruslan Salei," who wore the number during his 14-year career and with the Red Wings last season.
"Before he came to Detroit we just knew each other," said Datsyuk last week. "And during the last season we spent a lot of time together. We sat together on the plane going to away games. We played cards."
Datsyuk is expected to flip back to his familiar No. 13 during the season, which he has worn with the Detroit Red Wings since he broke into the NHL in 2001.
When asked by Sovietsky Sport in May why he chose such a "superstitious" number, he said:
"I don't know how a number can be unlucky. In the childhood I got to hockey by the 13th bus, I met my wife at 13th day of the month. Do you see how many lucky coincidences?"
Clearly, he's a man who puts some thought into his numbers. And the thought this preseason is heartfelt. We'd expect nothing else from Datsyuk.