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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Saddest Tragedy 16 years ago - Vladimir Konstantinov

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06-16-2013, 10:05 PM
  #1
JamieG
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Saddest Tragedy 16 years ago - Vladimir Konstantinov

It was nearly 16 years ago (give or take a few days) that the greatest tragedy (in my opinion) and saddest event that I've seen in sports happen -- Vladimir Konstantinov's accident.

Igor Kravchuk was recently asked if any young Russians or current players remind him of Vlad...he answered no one.

Just wanted to take a moment to pay respect to Konstantinov and for the younger fans to know what they missed.

I know some will scoff because of the way history unfolded, but personally I thought Konstantinov was a more dependable defenseman than Lidstrom.

I'm not really a stats guy anymore, but I believe Konstantinov's +60 in a season is one of the highest and was the most since Gretzky in the 80's. He finished 2nd to Brian Leetch in Norris voting with a mere 38 points - which tells you something about his greatness given how awards usually go to the guys with a lot of points.

I remember Lidstrom saying before they won the 97 Cup that he wished he could bring the same intensity game in and game out that Konstantinov was able to bring.

And although it never translated to a ton of points, he had offensive skills that were never utilized fully because the Red Wings had other guys to play that role (Coffey and then Lidstrom), but he was an excellent skater - he once played center with Team Russia to check Lindros because he could skate so well.

A couple of things I loved about Konstantinov was that he shattered the myth that Russians didn't care or were soft. Personally, I think he was the best hitter in the NHL and arguably one of the most competitive players.

The other thing I always liked about him was that he proved that size didn't matter. He could match up against anyone - and as mentioned, was one of the toughest and hardest hitters - yet he was only 5'11", 170.

Such a tragedy to capture the Stanley Cup and just days later have everything end.


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06-16-2013, 10:09 PM
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JacobimMugatu
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Odd you post this EXACTLY 15 years to the day of this and don't mention it

Makes me cry everytime

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06-16-2013, 10:22 PM
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tombombadil
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well said - all good points. most places have him at 185, rather than 170, just to be accurate.

You can never go on a straight 'what-if' and then place a guy where he COULD have been, at least not publicly... but in my mind, and my memory's eye, Vlad was one of the very best defensemen since the mid-90's until now, the era i watched as an adult. I would put him in my top 6 if I had anyone since then in their primes - 3rd pairing, no doubt, but I want THAT guy on my team.

Still makes me emotional, and I still want to believe he will come back to where he can take care of himself, even though most people die from that spinal injury, an no one can recover.

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06-16-2013, 11:12 PM
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Dangles McGavin
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I'm apparently too young to have ever heard this (or didn't follow hockey at the time).

Just watching that video and reading the story. Damn sad man. You can just tell that it wasn't a faux-"this is for you", but they really meant it. They were so excited to go around the ice with Vlad holding the cup.

Holding back the tears, man.

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06-16-2013, 11:27 PM
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eddytheeagle20
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i was only 6 so i didnt understand then but i do now a sad story but i think in that moment vlad is the happiest man on earth

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06-16-2013, 11:28 PM
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oilersfan11
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I still remember when this tragic incident first occurred.


Feel really sad about Vladie Konstantinov.The guy was a great body-checker.

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06-17-2013, 12:44 AM
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JamieG
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Quote:
Odd you post this EXACTLY 15 years to the day of this and don't mention it
Yes, that was emotional, but my post was more about remembering him for the great player he was.

It's a shame that a lot of the teenage fans today just know him as the guy in the wheelchair at Red Wings game and don't really know what a great player he was.

As his Norris nomination indicated, I believe he was just on the verge of being recognized as one of the best in the game year in and year out just like what happened with Lidstrom.

IMO, he was more physical and more punishing of a d-man than someone like Chara is today.

Quote:
most places have him at 185, rather than 170
Yeah, I recall varying numbers, some 5'10" 190 seems to come to mind. I just got the 170 from Hockey DataBase (well, 176 to be exact). Regardless, still the point is the same. When you talk about whether a d-man is physical or not, you shouldn't make all your judgments simply based on height and weight.

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06-17-2013, 10:42 AM
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mouser
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Have a Konstantinov jersey I got in '96, was my favorite player to watch. Such a sad unnecessary tragedy.

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06-17-2013, 10:44 AM
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Very irritating that we lost the chance to watch the new Rod Langway finish his career. I guess Scott Stevens as well although i believe Konstantinov was, and would finish up as a better defensive FORCE over say a 20 year career.

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06-17-2013, 11:18 PM
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I remember how incredibly satisfying everything had been with the Wings FINALLY winning a cup. Then when this happened it was one of the saddest days.What a great robbery fate had to cast upon a champion hockey player like him.Those backhand goals in that first highlight video, yeesh. He was also on team Russian junior team when "the punch up" transpired against Theo and co. back in the 80's and was even in the thick of it delivering a devastating head butt to a player on Canada. That hit on Lemieux is quite possibly one of my favorite hits ever, the whole motion of it and how Claude lands. How he was not seriously harmed I will never know because that hit was one for the ages. He was one rough and rumbling player and it was AWESOME.

There is no better moment in sports history that leads to my blubbering than seeing them win it the next year.

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06-18-2013, 09:27 AM
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tony d
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Very sad story for sure, hard to believe it's been 16 years already.

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06-18-2013, 12:06 PM
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One of the few videos, other than the soldiers returning to family/kids, that makes me tear up every time.

Damn shame.

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06-18-2013, 02:39 PM
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LeBlondeDemon10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Darth Yoda View Post
Very irritating that we lost the chance to watch the new Rod Langway finish his career. I guess Scott Stevens as well although i believe Konstantinov was, and would finish up as a better defensive FORCE over say a 20 year career.
Irritating I agree, but Rod Langway? VK offered more than that.

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06-18-2013, 05:32 PM
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El Cohiba
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Oh man, I have a lot of feelings on this one. Growing up a Hawks fan, I hated the Wings (still do) but I absolutely loved Fedorov and that insane line. Vladdy from what I remember was an absolute truck but also immensely skilled. There's a vid of it on youtube somewhere,but it's the game where Fedorov scored 5 and Vladdy walks in and makes a sick play to set up Feds. Absolutely unreal player

It also saddens me about the events that unfolded before the accident.. If I remember correctly, maybe someone can clarify, the driver had problems with DUI's and fell asleep while driving the players back from a golf outing. To me, it's inexcusable on the part of the limo service, and as a result both Vladdy and Mnatsakanov(sp?) are both disabled for life

Lastly, as much as I hate the Wings, I have to tip my hat to the class displayed by both their fans and their organization for how they keep Vlad in their family and for keeping #16 unworn

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06-19-2013, 10:00 AM
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Darth Yoda
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeBlondeDemon10 View Post
Irritating I agree, but Rod Langway? VK offered more than that.
Perhaps when it came to brutality and even offense, but Rod Langway still was one physically strong defensive stalwart that stole Norrises from Potvin, Bourque, Mark Howe and Coffey. For sure Vladdy might have taken the 1998 Norris and why not the 2000 one, but unfortunately we'll never know.

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06-20-2013, 08:24 AM
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RockemSockemProberts
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Ah man, now I'm depressed. I tear up every time I watch the '98 Cup celebration. Such a great couple of years -- both marred and defined by the limo incident. Miss Vladie a lot... what could have been...

Edit: Just watched the video in the OP (after posting). Tearing up a lot now. And, man, I miss those heavy hits from the '90s. It's such a soft game now...


Last edited by RockemSockemProberts: 06-20-2013 at 08:32 AM.
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06-20-2013, 07:18 PM
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barnztormre
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Originally Posted by El Cohiba View Post
If I remember correctly, maybe someone can clarify, the driver had problems with DUI's and fell asleep while driving the players back from a golf outing.
You are correct. Richard Gnida is his name. A real piece of work.

http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2008...v_trial_1.html


Last edited by barnztormre: 06-20-2013 at 07:19 PM. Reason: added an article
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06-20-2013, 08:08 PM
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Never forgotten around Detroit, still has a stall in the dressing room and appears at a lot of games.

I always preferred Lidstrom in that debate, but that was going to be a lethal one two punch.

You can always play the what if game, but I believe without Vladdy and then Fischer going down in the circumstances they did they have a Montreal esk run and we are looking at an even more impressive Stanley Cup haul in terms of the last 20 years.

The video gets me even more now, with Probert being the guy walking him out at Yzerman's jersey ceremony.


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06-20-2013, 08:12 PM
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The Zetterberg Era
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Originally Posted by barnztormre View Post
You are correct. Richard Gnida is his name. A real piece of work.

http://blog.mlive.com/snapshots/2008...v_trial_1.html
If you dig real deep on that story there is a reason he never went to prison and got off pretty light. Not a great kept secret around Detroit, but doesn't take the shockingly sad circumstances away. On a tribute thread we don't really need to get into that, but these players knew this particular driver.

Lucky that Fetisov was sitting in the front part of the limo seating. The team masseur and Konstantinov were not as lucky.

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06-20-2013, 08:54 PM
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You're all acting as if he is dead. It was reported a couple of months ago he has started walking again and retaining brain functions and movement patterns. This guy is the epitome of a survivor. Having said that, the videos posted were really sad. The guy was, to that point, the most surly Russian to ever play in North America. Steady d-man who was a wonderful skater and fierce competitor for those legendary nineties Red Wings teams.

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06-20-2013, 09:11 PM
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You're all acting as if he is dead. It was reported a couple of months ago he has started walking again and retaining brain functions and movement patterns. This guy is the epitome of a survivor. Having said that, the videos posted were really sad. The guy was, to that point, the most surly Russian to ever play in North America. Steady d-man who was a wonderful skater and fierce competitor for those legendary nineties Red Wings teams.
He was surly but lets not forget that Darius Kasparaitis played for the Russian National team and had tons of snarl in his game.

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06-20-2013, 09:31 PM
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tombombadil
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He was surly but lets not forget that Darius Kasparaitis played for the Russian National team and had tons of snarl in his game.
Vladdy was more upfront.

I love the ridiculous velocity assaults of Kaspar, but Vladdy did it right to your face, and answered the bell, too. He got beat a bit, but for a 180lb'r he was absolutely as tough pound-for-pound as any player I've ever seen.

His whole story reads the same way - born above the arctic circle, crushed someone with a headbutt at the Punch-Up in Piestany, risked punishment in defecting, played like Scott Stevens weighing well under 200 lbs, survived something he wasn't supposed to... and now, 15 years later is improving???

This is the Rocky Balboa of hockey.

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06-21-2013, 08:24 AM
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Darth Yoda
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Originally Posted by tombombadil View Post
Vladdy was more upfront.

I love the ridiculous velocity assaults of Kaspar, but Vladdy did it right to your face, and answered the bell, too. He got beat a bit, but for a 180lb'r he was absolutely as tough pound-for-pound as any player I've ever seen.

His whole story reads the same way - born above the arctic circle, crushed someone with a headbutt at the Punch-Up in Piestany, risked punishment in defecting, played like Scott Stevens weighing well under 200 lbs, survived something he wasn't supposed to... and now, 15 years later is improving???

This is the Rocky Balboa of hockey.
Yeah, and for sure Vladdy was better overall defensively, and offensively although that was obviously not eithers biggest strenght.

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