PRAGUE/BRATISLAVA – The numbers of Pavol Demitra, Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek, who passed away in the plane crash in Yaroslavl on Wednesday, will never be worn again by their national teams.
“It was decided that the jersey numbers of Rachunek (4), Marek (15) and Vasicek (63) will forever be retired,” Tomas Kral, the President of the Czech Ice Hockey Association, announced at a press conference.
Fans laid flowers, candles and photos of the players at the Staromestske namesti, the old town square Czech world champions were celebrated in the past.
A memorial service will be held there when the bodies arrive in Prague earliest on Sunday. “It’s the best place. It’s the place they enjoyed fame together with the fans,” Kral said.
The Czech Ice Hockey Association informed the IIHF later on Friday afternoon about details of the memorial services and the funeral arrangements for the three Czech IIHF World Champions.
A specially chartered plane will arrive in Prague with the bodies of Rachunek, Marek and Vasicek, in the night (2:00 am) between Friday and Saturday. The bodies will be moved into caskets prepared by the Czech association and taken to the players' respective places of birth.
On Sunday afternoon, at 15:00, memorial services for public will be set up at the Staromestske namesti, with a podium where large portraits of the three players will be put up. Mourners will have until 22:00 to put flowers and sign condolences at the Old Town Square.
Funeral services will begin on Wednesday next week, when Karel Rachunek will be laid to rest in his home town of Zlin at 14:00.
The funeral of Josef Vasicek will be held on Thursday in his home town of Havlickuv Brod. Time TBA.
The funeral of Jan Marek will take place on Friday and he will be laid to rest in his home town of Jindrichuv Hradec. Time TBA.
Pavol Demitra’s number 38 was retired as well and won’t be worn by any Slovak team anymore. The Slovak national team will have a small 38 on their jerseys during exhibition games in the 2011/2012 season.
“In a short moment, Demitra’s family lost a loving father, and the country lost a hockey genius and a charismatic man,” said Igor Nemecek, the President of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. “Pavol was a real idol for our young hockey players. That’s why we decided that number 38 will permanently be retired from hockey jerseys in Slovakia.”
Similar steps might happen in other countries as well.
In Latvia, fans laid flowers at the Arena Riga, where a memorial service for Karlis Skrastins will be held this weekend.
In Belarus, people gathered to the Minsk Arena to remember the players Ruslan Salei and Sergei Ostapchuk, and fitness trainer Nikolai Krivonosov, who died in the crash. On Thursday evening, when Dynamo Minsk was supposed to open the season against Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, hockey fans remembered the Lokomotiv players and staff who died. Posters of all Lokomotiv players were on the ice sheet with the Dynamo Minsk players in attendance on the ice.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday at the arena of Yunost Minsk at Gorki Park.
HV71 Jönköping, the Swedish club of goaltender Stefan Liv, cancelled Saturday’s exhibition home game vs. Frölunda, but the Kinnarps Arena will be held open for public who would like to pay tribute to the best goaltender in the history of the club. The board of HV71 also decided on Thursday that Stefan Liv’s number 1 jersey will be retired. That ceremony will be held later. Liv represented HV71 for 14 seasons.