Marek Svatos, who died Saturday at the age of 34, was remembered as a great teammate who loved hockey by Colorado Avalanche executive vice president and general manager Joe Sakic.
Svatos, a right wing who played seven NHL seasons with the Avalanche, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators, is survived by his wife, Diana, and two sons. No cause of death has been announced.
"He was a great teammate," Sakic, who played with Svatos in Colorado from 2004-09, told the Denver Post on Sunday. "He was a great player with a lot of skill, and a lot of fun to be around. He loved the game of hockey, loved to be around it, loved to have fun. He was quiet, but had a great sense of humor.
"Only 34. It's sad. We feel for Diana and the boys and his family, and our condolences go out to them. It's tough. It's tough for them."
Selected by the Avalanche in the seventh round (No. 227) of the 2001 NHL Draft, Svatos had 100 goals and 172 points in 344 games, 316 with Colorado. He last played in the NHL in 2010-11 with the Senators. He had a career-high 32 goals and 50 points in 61 games as a rookie in 2005-06 before sustaining a season-ending shoulder injury. Svatos scored 26 goals in 62 games in 2007-08 until a knee injury kept him out of the final 16 games.
"It's heartbreaking for everyone who knew him," Avalanche forward Matt Duchene, a rookie during Svatos' final season in Colorado (2009-10), told the paper Sunday after a 5-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center. "A lot of us from that team have been talking a little bit. Guys have been wishing his family thoughts and prayers, and that's all we can do right now. He was such a good guy, one of my first linemates, a great hockey player. You could tell he loved his family a lot. It's sad."
Blues center Paul Stastny had a connection with Svatos, his teammate for four seasons with the Avalanche. Statsny's father, Hockey Hall of Fame member Peter Stastny, and mother are from Svatos' native Slovakia and Paul speaks Slovak. Marek David, Svatos' oldest son, was the ring bearer at Paul Stastny's wedding.
"It's a shock," Paul Stastny told the Post. "Haley, my wife, is good friends with Diana, and she told me. I almost couldn't believe it when I saw the text. I had to call her right away. It's devastating, it's sad, really sad.
"Right now, my prayers are with Diana and their two kids, for her and for them, they're so young. I know my wife and a bunch of the former Avs and current Avs wives are trying to do something to get the kids kind of away from that scene. They're so young, 5 and 3 almost."
Svatos played nine games for the Predators in 2010-11. Nashville goalie Pekka Rinne told NHL.com Monday he was thinking about his former teammate and his family.
"It was terrible news. You never want to hear that. I learned that he has two young kids so obviously you think about his family," Rinne said. "He was here for a short time and had a short and successful NHL career. He was a really good goal-scorer and a good sniper."
Bryan Murray, who was general manager of the Senators when the Ottawa claimed Svatos off waivers on Feb. 24, 2011, remembered him "as a good guy to have around the team. He had skill and a good work ethic. Very sad and so young."