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GRIFFINS TO HONOR MEMORY OF LOKOMOTIV YAROSLAVL ALUMNI IN 2011-12

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The Grand Rapids Griffins have planned several memorials to honor their three alumni – Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek and Stefan Liv – who were members of the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team that perished in the Sept. 7 plane crash in Russia.

Beginning with tomorrow’s 2011-12 opener in Rockford, Griffins players will wear a special helmet sticker for all 76 games this season, with a complementary patch also adorning their jerseys during all 38 home contests.

Both the sticker and patch display the words “Griffins Forever” above the jersey numbers worn by the players during their time in Grand Rapids. Demitra’s 38 is shown in blue, Rachunek’s 29 is depicted in gold to represent his one-time status as an Ottawa Senators prospect, and Liv’s 1 is red to reflect his tenure during the Griffins’ affiliation with the Detroit Red Wings.

At the Griffins’ home opener next Friday, Oct. 14 at Van Andel Arena, a moment of silence will be held in the players’ memory immediately prior to the national anthem, and fans can read a tribute article in the first issue of Griffiti, the team’s official magazine. In addition, a column on the arena concourse that honors Demitra as one of Grand Rapids’ most distinguished NHL alumni will be adorned with a black ribbon for the duration of the 2011-12 season.

DemitraRachunekLiv300.jpg“The tragic loss of these players and their teammates has had a profound effect on our fans and everyone in our organization who had the pleasure of knowing and working with them,” said Tim Gortsema, the Griffins’ senior vice president of business operations. “It’s a privilege for us to honor their memory and to do whatever we can to assist in supporting their loved ones.”

Toward that end, Kortney Paek, the wife of Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek, has led the wives and girlfriends of Griffins players and coaches in joining a hockey-wide effort to raise money for a foundation that is helping support the families of those who were lost in the tragedy.

“Love for Lokomotiv” silicone memory bracelets will be sold for $10 each at a table on the Van Andel Arena concourse during the Oct. 14 opener and select home games, as well as through loveforlokomotiv.com, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the established foundation. The web site also offers prayer bracelets comprised of semiprecious jade beads – symbolizing healing, hope, love and generosity – in both adult ($50) and child ($25) sizes.

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