The Malik Report
by George Malik on 03/28/11 at 04:19 AM ET
The Detroit Red Wings very purposefully allow former Wing Vladimir Konstantinov to continue to interact with the team on a very low-profile basis for obvious reasons, but the Toronto Sun’s Terry Ksohan reports that the Vladinator made a visit to Joe Louis Arena on Saturday night, and as his playing days included the last throes of a once-bitter rivalry with the Maple Leafs, one might expect a Leaf fan or two to stay silent during a chance encounter. Koshan reports that, on the contrary, Leaf fans respect the old warrior’s near-legendary status:
Former Wings defenceman Vladimir Konstantinov, whose career ended in 1997 after he suffered massive head injuries in a car accident following the Wings’ Stanley Cup victory party, got on the elevator on the ground floor.
Once a fierce warrior on the ice, Konstantinov requires a walker for mobility and full-time nursing care.
One floor up, a group of Leafs fans, most clad in blue Leafs sweaters, stepped into the elevator. One, wearing a Tomas Kaberle sweater, took a hard look at Konstantinov, knowing that he recognized the man before him from somewhere. Suddenly, it dawned on the Leafs supporter that he was sharing the lift with a former hockey player. But who, he asked. Speaking just above a whisper, Konstantinov replied, “Konstantinov.”
The Leafs fan, probably no more than 35 years old, instantly made the connection to the accident and the player that Konstantinov had been. With genuine admiration, and as his friends held open the door, as they had arrived at their floor, the Leafs fan remained in the elevator and told Konstantinov that it was an honour to meet him and how much he had respected him as a player. Konstantinov responded with a smile, clearly pleased that he was remembered in such high regard.
He still is, by many, many people, for not only his contributions to the Wings’ cause on the ice, but also his status as a remarkable man.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.