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Oskars Bartulis Changes Number to Honor Karlis Skrastins

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DECEMBER 11:Karlis Skrastins #37 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
DECEMBER 11:Karlis Skrastins #37 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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After initially wearing No. 32 in Glens Falls, Oskars Bartulis has switched his jersey number to No. 37 to honor fallen comrade Karlis Skrastins, who was killed in the devastating plane crash this September in Russia that wiped out the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team of the Kontinental Hockey League.

Bartulis traveled back to Latvia to attend memorial services for Skrastins, missing part of the Flyers training camp to do so. He was later put on waivers by the Flyers and demoted to the AHL.

With the loss of Skrastins and the demotion of Bartulis to the AHL, the NHL is without a Latvian player for the first time since the country became independent in 1991 (a streak previously kept up by players such as Arturs Irbe and Sandis Ozolinsh)

Bartulis and Skrastins, both defencemen, were the only two NHLers on the Latvian men's hockey team's roster at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The two organized a hockey camp in Latvia this summer.