The Detroit Red Wings had a special visitor at practice Thursday -- Herman Liv, the 5-year-old son of former goaltending prospect Stefan Liv, who was one of 44 people killed in the Lokomotiv team plane crash in Russia in September.
The Liv family -- mother Anna, Herman and 3-year-old son Harry -- have been visiting from Sweden and staying with Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson for the past month. Ericsson and Stefan Liv became close as teammates with the Wings' AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
"It's nice for them to get away, to get off the focus at home," Ericsson told reporters. "It's been a lot for them, throughout everything. So it's nice to think about something else for a while.
"The kids are fine. They're too young, I think. But Anna has her up-and-down days, of course. So it's nice to think about something else and do something else for a while."
Liv was a 2000 fourth-round pick of the Red Wings but played just one season in North America, 2006-07, which he split between Grand Rapids and the ECHL's Toledo Storm. The rest of his career was spent in his native Sweden. This season was going to be his first playing in the KHL.
Fellow Swede Nicklas Kronwall, who played on Swedish national teams with Liv, said Herman, "Reminds you non-stop of Stefan."
"You're happy to see them and it's fun to see the kids running around," added Kronwall. "They're just like him."
Kronwall said he had only good memories of Liv.
"He was always one of those guys you hung out with, went to dinner with," said Kronwall. "One of those guys you always wanted to be around because you were having a good time. He'd always make you smile. You'd always be in a good mood around him.
"It's tough looking back, especially when you see (his kids)."