Senators by the Numbers: #78

An examination of every Senator to wear the number 78. No Senator has ever worn the number 77 (except Joe Corvo).

Pavol Demitra C 1993-1994, 1994-1995, 1995-1996

Born in Dubnica nad Váhom, Czechoslovakia in 1974, Demitra was drafted 227th overall by the Ottawa Senators in 1993. He began his pro career with HC Dukla Trenčin of the CFIHL. After being selected by the Senators, Demitra left his native Slovakia and joined the Sens. He scored in his first game against Curtis Joseph on October 9, 1993, but played just 12 games with Ottawa that season. He spent the majority of his first season in North America with the Prince Edward Island Senators (AHL) and was a point-per-game player. He spent the majority of the lockout-shortened 1994-1995 season with PEI and was an offensive standout, scoring 74 points in 61 games. Demitra started the 1995-1996 season with PEI and again starred offensively (81 points in 48 games). He was once again promoted to Ottawa, playing in 31 games. He missed the start of the 1996-1997 season as he was engaged in a contract dispute with the Sens. Instead, he played for HC Dukla Trenčin and the Las Vegas Thunder of the IHL before being traded in November to the St. Louis Blues for Christer Olsson. Unfortunately, it would become one of the most lopsided trades in Sens history. Olsson played just 25 games for the Senators, and had just 16 points in 56 games in his NHL career, while Demitra scored 304 goals, 464 assists, and 768 points in 847 games in his NHL career.

Demitra blossomed in St. Louis. He became a full-time NHLer in 1997-1998 and had a breakout season the following year, finishing tenth in league scoring. In eight seasons with the Blues, he had 493 points in 494 games. He returned to HC Dukla Trenčin during the 2004-2005 lockout and signed a three-year deal with the Los Angeles Kings in 2005. He spent just one season in LA before being traded to the Minnesota Wild for Patrick O'Sullivan and a first round pick. After two seasons with the Wild, he spent his final two seasons in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks, signing as a free agent in 2008. His final NHL season was a difficult one, as he battled injury, limiting his productivity.

In the summer of 2010 he joined Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL and had a good season. He returned for the 2011-2012 campaign with Lokomotiv. Tragically, Demitra was killed with 43 others, including the entire roster of the Lokomotiv team, in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Air Disaster on September 7, 2011. A three-time NHL All-Star and three-time Olympian for Slovakia, Demitra served as Slovak team captain in Torino. He represented his nation 11 times (in addition to twice representing Czechoslovakia), and was the leading scorer at the 2010 Olympics. He won the Lady Byng Trophy in 2000. Team Slovakia retired his number 38 jersey four days after his death. His Slovakian club team, HC Dukla Trenčin, retired his number 38 jersey five days after that. B.O.F. Arena, HC Dukla Trenčin's home rink, was renamed Pavol Demitra Ice Stadium. His elementary school was also renamed in his honour.

Demitra is one of three former Senators to have passed away. Sergei Zholtok died at age 31 of heart failure. Zholtok left the ice near the end a the game and headed to the HK Riga 200 dressing room, where he collapsed and died in the arms of teammate Darby Hendrickson. Karel Rachunek, 32, was a teammate of Demitra's and also perished in the Lokomotiv Air Disaster.

Demitra is survived by his wife Maja and children Lucas and Zara. His infant son Tobias predeceased him.

1993-1994 12 1 1 2 -7 4
1994-1995 16 4 3 7 -4 0
1995-1996 31 7 10 17 -3 6

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