Always on their minds
Wings think often of fallen teammates
Posted: Sunday June 14, 1998 01:47 AM
Vladimir Konstantinov has attended two playoff games at Joe Louis Arena to support his Red Wing teammates ()|
DETROIT (AP) -- While defending the Stanley Cup is the No. 1 priority on
the minds of the Detroit
Red Wings, thoughts about two disabled team members are constantly with
"With all the focus on hockey, those two, in our minds, have to be
inspirations. We feel very, very much for Vladdie and Sergei," center Sergei Fedorov
"We always say that first we get the job done, and then we come back and
hug them and shake their hands. ... Vladdie and Sergei are still with us
and we're happy to play for them and think about them and support them."
Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov sustained disabling
head injuries in a limousine accident one year ago Saturday.
Both were comatose in the weeks following crash that occurred six days
after the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. But after
continuous therapy, Konstantinov can speak a little in Russian, can hold
his head up by himself and can take about 75 steps with help. Mnatsakanov,
paralyzed on his left side, is restricted to a wheelchair.
Federov's comments were made to the Detroit Free Press from Washington
where the Red Wings played Game 3 Saturday night.
The players are not the only ones who have shown their concern. Support
also has come from fans who have donated $180,000 to William Beaumont
Hospital's Head Injury Fund in the year since the accident.
The fund was created in honor of Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov, who spent
several months at the Royal Oak hospital before continuing rehabilitation
in Florida. The money is earmarked for head injury patients and head injury
Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov have attended practice sessions and were at
Joe Louis Arena when the Wings defeated the Capitals 5-4 in overtime in
Game 2 on Thursday night.
"Every time I've seen Vladdie, he's made improvements," defenseman Bob Rouse said. "He's
making small strides on his way to recovery ... And that's what's
encouraging, he hasn't reached a plateau, he keeps getting better every
day. His long-range capacity to improve is endless."
"It's sad thing what happened, but we have to move on," Fedorov said. "If
we had stuck with feeling angry, it would be much tougher to play for each
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