Today, the hockey community experienced one of the worst tragedies in the history of the sport.
A Russian Yak-42 passenger jet carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team of the KHL crashed shortly after takeoff while en route to the team's season-opening games, as reported by the Associated Press.
While the lives of each and every one of the people flying on that plane are equally important, the catastrophe hits home when you have a relationship with one of those lost.
For most of us fans, the extent of our relationship with Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins went no further than being one of the players we saw on TV or in person while watching Avalanche games.
For others, including players, coaches and media who spoke with the defensemen on a daily basis, the relationship was much more personal.
That is what makes it so hard to get past an event like this. It changes lives permanently and reminds us just how fragile life is.
Hockey may be the best sport on the planet, but at the end of the day, after the ice is resurfaced, the lights are turned off and the arena sits empty, these players are people just like you and me.
In honor of the former players who were lost today, let's take a look at some of their most memorable moments on the ice.