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Kings' Ron Hextall mourns death of Brad McCrimmon

September 7, 2011 |  1:23 pm

Brad3 News of the plane crash that took the lives of nearly the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team and its coaches left Ron Hextall so stunned that he could barely speak.

But the Kings' assistant general manager was determined to talk so he could convey his respect and admiration for Brad McCrimmon, his longtime Philadelphia Flyers teammate who had taken a job coaching Lokomotiv this season and was among the victims.

“When I heard about it, I didn’t know what to say. My first reaction was, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me,’” Hextall said Wednesday.

“When I think of teammates I had over the years and great teammates, Brad McCrimmon is at the top of the list. Any athlete wants to be remembered as a good teammate. He truly was.”

Hextall and McCrimmon played on some outstanding Flyers teams in the 1980s, though they never won the Stanley Cup. McCrimmon, nicknamed “Beast” for his fearless physicality and ability to play 30-plus minutes per game, was usually paired with Mark Howe in a formidable defense tandem.

Hextall said he recalled talking last season with McCrimmon, then an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, and Howe, a Detroit scout.

“I had such a strong bond with those guys. Beast was on our top ‘D’ pair and I think he and Mark Howe were the best pair in the league,” Hextall said. “The last time I saw him, he and Mark Howe came over to me and we just started talking. You could not see the guy for two or three years and you’d see him and it was like you’d just talked yesterday.”

Hextall said he didn’t know Pavol Demitra, a former King who was also killed in the crash, but had heard from other Kings’ staffers that Demitra was well-liked.

“It just doesn’t seem fair,” Hextall said.

More coverage later at www.latimes.com/sports

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-- Helene Elliott

 Photo: Former NHL player and assistant coach Brad McCrimmon. Credit: Associated Press

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