For those who haven't seen the way in which the KHL decided to honor Lokomotiv's fallen players, here's the video:
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How are the Blues going to approach such a tragedy?
First of all, both Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev donned the number 38 while wearing the 'Note - a crazy coincidence, in my opinion, that lends itself nicely to some Blues-centered memorials. How will the team approach this one?
A patch on the team's jersey?
I love this idea, but there are a key reasons why it probably won't happen. First, this is a business. Bettman is surely going to make the statements he needs to make, when he needs to make them, but the simple fact is that the NHL and KHL directly compete with one another for money and talent in the hockey world. To say that the relationship between the two leagues is strained would be an understatement. This rolls into my second point:
Korolev was a relative blip on the radar in the grand scheme of the Blues franchise. Demitra was a prolific point-per-game, human highlight reel in the otherwise barren post-Hull era for this team. Does that make Demitra's life worth more today than Korolev's, or than any other of Lokomotiv's fallen who played more like Korolev than Demitra for their NHL organization? If the Blues wore "38" on their shoulders, it would only be appropriate for every team to wear every number that was ever worn by the fallen. I don't see that happening.
A honorary banner in the rafters?
This is a no-brainer, and I firmly believe that "38" should hang proudly alongside "5" and "14". If I were to divide Blues fans into three distinctive generations, I would categorize them this way:
"Post-lockout" - Lot's of reasons to be excited for young defenseman, flowing hair, and bold roster moves, each season since EJ was taken #1 overall, but this is a tortured generation. All face-painted up with no playoffs to go to (except for that one awesome week a few years ago).
"Post-Fox-Tracker" - This is a combination of the Hull-era, the Keenan Era, and the Pronger/MacInnis Era. Saturday afternoon nationally-televised STL-DET games, individual player performance awards raining from the skies, and all the team had to show for it was a fucking President's Trophy. Man, it was a great ride, though.
"Plagers->Sutters" - This is the foundation this organization was built on. From fighting stupid 70's era Philly fans in the stands to the "Monday Night Miracle", this era defined why anyone, ever, would "Bleed Blue".
Personally, I grew up in the "Post-Fox-Tracker Era", which means I missed out on seeing "5" and "14". While one is honored for being the quintessential Blue, the other was taken from his family too soon, and each are appropriately honored. Because they are so honored, "5" and "14" will be in the hearts of your unborn children.
They are the men who defined a large part of how we got to where we are today. "38" belongs with them to forever remind those who were lucky enough to see them skate, and those who weren't even born yet, that these men died in the midst of living their dreams, and shockwaves hit the organization when they were lost.
Handing out "38" as an honor, as one commenter suggested?
Very cool idea, but that process is more of a high-school/college thing to me. Just as Bob Plager blessed Jackman by approving his use of #5, I think some level of responsibility will fall on some member of the organization to ensure that #38 never goes to some snot-nosed jack-off who doesn't exemplify Demitra's spirit.
Last year the number was worn by Phil McRae, and it seems as though #38 would be fine in his hands. He wore #8 in Peoria (AHL), #38 for the Plymouth Whalers (OHL), and #90 for the London Knights (OHL). He obviously has some ties to the number, but it's not uncommon for young players to swap numbers as they settle in to the league. Nobody would blame McRae for dropping #38, and nobody would be ashamed of him wearing it - the bottom line is that the #38 will never be worn lightly on a Blues sweater ever again.
A pre-game ceremony?
Sure, just do it right. Please. For whatever reasons, the organization has won awards for their in-game presentation in the recent past, but some of the things they do cause many palms to meet many foreheads.
If I'm not mistaken, Jackman is the only active player who skated with Demitra. There are others in the organization who had varying levels of contact with one or both of the fallen. Something along the lines of a severely trimmed-down version of the ceremony in the video above would be awesome and memorable.
Please, Blues, just make it short, simple, respectful, and don't promote it to sell tickets to a Tuesday game against Dallas.