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Flames honor McCrimmon in touching ceremony

by Aaron Vickers

CALGARY -- Deeply missed, but certainly not forgotten.

That's the message from friends, players, colleagues and fans of Brad McCrimmon as the Calgary Flames honored their former player, captain and assistant coach prior to Tuesday's game against the League-leading Detroit Red Wings.

It wasn't done quietly, either.

Instead of the customary moment of silence, the Flames asked 19,289 spectators in attendance at the Scotiabank Saddledome to instead make noise in a 'moment of applause' for the former Flames defenseman, captain and assistant coach in a tribute to McCrimmon.
McCrimmon was one of 44 victims on board a Russian plane carrying Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl that crashed Sept. 7, 2011.

A touching video tribute preceded McCrimmon's thunderous ovation.

Prior to the ceremony, the Flames wore commemorative McCrimmon jerseys. A custom tribute logo – 4 Brad – was also present on all equipment connected with the tribute, while players wore the same logo on the backs of helmets.

"I know Brad really well, not just playing against him but I knew him well as a person too off the ice," Flames coach Brent Sutter said before the game. "Brad was a bear. He played hard, a very smart player. He was always honest and direct. That's how he played. He played an honest and direct game.

"It's a great tribute here we're doing tonight. You always felt connected to his family."

McCrimmon's wife Maureen, daughter Carlin and son Liam were in attendance for the celebration. As well, McCrimmon's parents and brother Kelly -- who serves as general manager of the WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings where McCrimmon played his junior hockey -- were also in attendance.

"Anytime you see Beast's family, you know how blessed you are," said Red Wings coach Mike Babcock, who had McCrimmon on his staff last season. "Things can happen. That's why you live each and every day to the fullest and make sure you hug your kids every day and make sure you're on good terms with people because you never know what can happen."

McCrimmon joined the Flames family as a player in 1987. After helping Calgary to the Stanley Cup, McCrimmon was named the team's seventh captain in franchise history in 1990. He was later traded to the Red Wings the following offseason, playing three seasons in Detroit and three more with the Hartford Whalers before finishing his career with the Phoenix Coyotes.

He returned to the Flames organization as an assistant coach in 2000. He held the same role in Detroit from 2008-2011 before accepting the position of head coach with Lokomotiv last May.
"He was a real good coach," Babcock said. "He built relationships. That's how we think of him."

"Brad was a man that was always willing to help," Sutter said. "He was always a guy that was concerning as far as wanting to know how everyone was doing. He was a fun guy to be around. He always kept humor and he was an exciting guy. It's obviously a sad loss, but a great tribute tonight to him."

The Flames will also pay homage to McCrimmon with a special tribute logo, '4 Brad', which will be displayed on the players' helmets during the game. Commemorative McCrimmon jerseys worn by the Flames during the pre-game warm-up will be auctioned off at with benefits going to 'Love4Lokomotiv.'

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