If there is one thing that is appreciated in the NHL, it's reliability. Being a consistent force on offense is an invaluable asset to professional hockey teams and something that general managers pounce on, given the opportunity.
Pavol Demitra was reliable.
Although he played more than 80 games in a season only twice, he managed to rack up more than 50 points in 10 different seasons. Demitra was that player you knew you could count on for some help around the net.
He was a sniper who made a name for himself playing on small-market teams, including his own home country of Slovakia.
Demitra is part of a unique group of Slovakian-born players who have combined to turn the European nation into more than just a stepping stone in international play. Along with fellow NHLers Jaroslav Halak, Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and captain Zdeno Chara, Demitra helped Slovakia earn a fourth-place finish in the 2010 Olympics.
In a horribly tragic event, the NHL lost not only one of its prolific goal scorers, but a humble leader as well—a player that the league could use more of at this time.
Demitra was not the league's best player by any measure, but he was certainly one of its most skilled, evident by his 93-point season in 2002-03. He went about his business, scoring big goals and then shying from the limelight.
In 2001-02, 10 of Demitra's 35 goals were game-winning goals, placing above all other players in that category. Didn't know about that? Neither did I, and that's just the way Demitra would like it to be.
Remember that mad flurry of action in front of Canada's net in the Olympics against Slovakia where they almost lost the game late in the third? Demitra scored Slovakia's second goal to pull within one of the eventual champions. Always a big-time player at the right moment, without the shadow of a big time player.
Pavol Demitra fought injuries and managed to score big goals for both his NHL clubs and his homeland. He will be sorely missed. For a player who seemed to clock into work every game and do his thing, I hope he gets the remembrance he deserves for his storied career.