It was an understandably emotional opening day of camp for Anaheim Ducks defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who had returned after attending the funeral of fellow Slovakian and longtime friend Pavol Demitra.
Visnovsky flew into Orange County at 9 p.m. Friday night and was at practice 12 hours later.
"This last week was tough for me and my family and for people in Slovakia," Visnovsky said, his voiced tinged with emotion. "It's hard to say something. He was one of my best friends. I know his family. I know his kids and it's tough for the whole family. His wife is a very strong wife. Before I left I told her, 'I'll help you anytime.'"
Demitra was a member of the KHL team that died in a plane crash earlier this month. Visnovsky knew Demitra since he was 14 years old and his wife is good friends with Demitra's wife.
"I remember he was a very talented guy – one of the very best for his age," Visnovsky said. "It's unreal. It doesn't matter what he played – soccer or hockey – he was very talented. The last time I played with him was the world championship. He was our captain. I've got great memories of him."