A member of the most accomplished team in Kootenay Ice history passed away on Sunday morning.
Marek Svatos, who was born in Košice, Slovakia in 1982 had his death officially announced by the International Ice Hockey Federation's official twitter account. Svatos reportedly died in Lone Tree, Colorado. The details of the 34-year-old retired hockey player's passing have not been released.
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Svatos played 344 career games in the NHL with the Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and Ottawa Senators.
Before making his mark in the professional leagues, however, Svatos was a star for the Kootenay Ice who acquired the slick Slovakian winger with the 47th overall pick in the 2000 CHL Import Draft.
Although complications between the Ice and the Slovak Ice Hockey Association prevented Svatos from playing with the club throughout the early portion of the 2000-01 season, he quickly became a player of note for the Cranbrook team.
Putting up 118 points in 92 regular season games with the Ice, over the course of his two-year WHL career, Svatos was instrumental in Kootenay's 2002 Memorial Cup win.
The achievement of the CHL's highest prize came in only the team's fourth year in Cranbrook, and Svatos had 18 points in 21 games during the 2000 WHL playoffs and five points in four games in the Memorial Cup tournament.
In a March 25, 2002, interview with the Townsman, Svatos expressed great joy in playing in Cranbrook with the Kootenay Ice.
"It's the dream of everybody to come here and play hockey," Svatos told the Townsman. "I'm happy to play hockey in Canada. There's lots of [NHL] scouts and games to see me. That's why [I] we came here."
Many members of the hockey community across the globe have expressed their condolences to those close to Svatos through twitter including former Avalanche teammates Matt Duchene, Darcy Tucker, Wojtek Wolski, and many more.
"[We] are saddened by the passing of 2002 Memorial Cup Champion Marek Svatos," said the Kootenay Ice organization in a statement from their official twitter account. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."
The Governor and General Manager of the Tri-City Americans, Bob Tory, who was the General Manager of the Kootenay Ice when they acquired Svatos in 2000, also paid his respects.
"Sad day. RIP Marek Svatos. God bless my friend," Tory wrote on his personal twitter, ending his message with "#HockeyIsFamily."
Svatos' NHL career ended in 2011 after a concussion injury. He then played six games in the KHL in 2012-13 before finally retiring from professional hockey after 26 games in the Slovak Extraliga in 2014-15.
He is survived by his wife and two children.