-- Despite the fact Pavel Datsyuk
was among friends and prepping for what is sure to be another exhilarating NHL season during the Player Media Tour stop here at Prudential Center on Thursday, the devastating plane crash in Russia that claimed the lives of 43 people just 24 hours earlier was very much on his mind.
When asked what needs to be done in order to move forward from Wednesday's tragedy, in which a majority of victims were members of the Kontinental Hockey League club Lokomotiv, Datsyuk looked at his inquisitor with a blank stare and said, "pray."
Datsyuk was in no mood to talk hockey following his on-ice session and media appearances. But to his credit, he answered every question and skated for the video cameras. Deep down, however, he was hurting.
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Datsyuk said he was driving to the rink when he received the news via a text message and phone calls from friends in Russia.
"I went to the arena, and in traffic I got the news," he told reporters. "It was a bad, bad tragedy -- everything happened so quick. There were a lot of guys I played against or played with on that team ... it was kind of tough. Seeing the TV and the family and friends of those who had died was bad."
Datsyuk, who was born in Sverdlovsk, Russia, said he hopes the airline companies overseas learn from Wednesday's incident.
"I hope now everyone thinks about it and spends the money and safety for these teams," he said. "Not save money for something like this. It can't happen."
When asked his thoughts for the upcoming season and how the team will rebound following consecutive second-round playoff losses to the San Jose Sharks
, the usual jovial Datsyuk shook his head.
"Are we talking about hockey now?" he asked. "I'm sorry. My mind is different now. It goes much deeper than that. I have no idea what's going on in hockey ... not now. It's really hard. I still can't believe it. I was waiting to the last minute to find out if (defenseman) Ruslan Salei
was on the plane.
"I was waiting on good news ... some hope that he was not on plane, but it looks like ... "
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale