‘He’s a part of this history’ — Keith Tkachuk pays tribute to the late Pavol Demitra

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NHL alumni games are all about bringing back the memories.

During Saturday’s 2017 NHL Winter Classic Alumni Game, Keith Tkachuk paid tribute to the memory of a former St. Louis Blues player no longer with us.

Tkachuk wore the No. 38 jersey during today’s alumni game against the Chicago Blackhawks, paying tribute to the late Pavol Demitra, who lost his life at the age of 36 in the plane crash that killed the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team in September of 2011.

“Why not? He’s the best guy. He’s one of my closest friends. He’s a part of this history,” Tkachuk told reporters after the event. “And we miss him big time. Wish he was here.”

Demitra played for the Blues from 1997 to 2004. On three occasions during his tenure there, he scored more than 35 goals in a single season. He recorded 93 points during the 2002-03 season.

He played 847 games in the NHL, including 494 with the Blues. He ranks fifth all-time in Blues scoring with 493 points.

In September, a documentary about the life of Pavol Demitra was shown at a film festival in Vancouver.