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Vladi rehabs through his art

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
Vladimir Konstantinov was a tough-nosed defenseman, who played for the Red Wings from 1991-97.
Vladimir Konstantinov and his family, in conjunction with Gallery U & Boutique of Royal Oak, will present 42 of the former Red Wing’s works of art in a public exhibition November 17.

Nearly 14 years ago, the rugged defenseman was severely injured when a limousine carrying him, fellow teammate Viacheslav Fetisov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov struck a tree at high speeds.

The tragic crash occurred just six days after the Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, shocking the Motor City and leaving Konstantinov struggling to regain his health and livelihood.

As part of his rehabilitation process, Konstantinov has recently teamed up with Universal Institute in Troy, a program that offers rehabilitation and living services for individuals affected by traumatic brain injuries.

Stemming from a successful sister model in New Jersey, Universal Institute operates Gallery U, an art gallery in downtown Royal Oak that solely features the art work of recovering clients.

Through Gallery U, the clients work with a highly-trained clinical team to create art through a variety of media, including paint, sculpture, photography and woodwork.

Much of the art is then displayed in the gallery, where patrons can purchase and even custom order pieces.

At the show, the gallery will predominantly feature Konstantinov’s signed and framed paintings, which visitors will be able to view and purchase.

Those who buy one of Konstantinov’s pieces will get an opportunity to meet the former Wing.

Proceeds from the exhibition will be donated to the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, a non-profit organization that provides education, advocacy, research opportunities, and support groups to brain injury victims, their families and the people who assist them.

Konstantinov was drafted by the Wings in 1989 with fellow greats Sergei Fedorov and Nicklas Lidstrom. In his six seasons with the Wings, he played in 446 regular-season games and 82 playoff games, picking up 175 points before his career ended.

In the 1995-96 season, Konstantinov was an integral part of the organization’s race to its first championship in 42 years, leading the league with a +60-rating, and finishing second in Norris Trophy voting.

Konstantinov’s tough defense and hard hitting—atypical of the Russian style of play at that time—earned him on and off-ice nicknames such as “Vladinator” and “Vlad the Bad.”

His number has not officially been retired by the Red Wings but, out of respect, no player has worn it since.

The exhibition of Konstantinov’s work will be held from 7-9 p.m. at Gallery U, located at 310 West 4th Street in Royal Oak. Click here for more details about Gallery U and their work with Universal Institute.

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