One of the pioneering Russians in the NHL and a standout backliner, Konstantinov, a shot-in-the-dark 11th-round draft pick in 1989, became a Stanley Cup hero in Detroit before tragedy altered his life's plan. In 1997, he suffered life-threatening head injuries in a limousine crash following a party to celebrate Detroit's first Stanley Cup in 42 years. He has no memories of the crash, but certainly remembers who he is. He is, in fact, in better condition than most people who have suffered catastrophic brain trauma. Konstantinov occasionally attends Red Wings games at Joe Louis Arena, sitting at an empty stall in the dressing room and moving to the bench to watch the warmup. The players say he never initiates conversation but always responds with a few words.
Text: Mchael Farber/SI
Photo: AP, Peter Gregoire/SI