REVIEW: Pavol Demitra: 38

A great documentary about the life and times of former Vancouver Canuck Pavol Demitra – and if you’re a fan, it’s worth watching.

It’s hard to believe today is the five-year anniversary of the death of Pavol Demitra. He, and the rest of the 2011 – 2012 Yaroslavl Lokomotiv roster, and most of their staff that year, died in a terrible plane crash in Russia, ultimately attributed to pilot error. Only one person survived the flight.

While Henrik Sedin will always be my number one Canuck, back when I worked in retail, my coworkers often called me “Demitra” (my full name is Demitria, so you can see where the similarities lie).

I always appreciated Demitra, and the way he played. I liked watching him play with Henrik and Daniel, even though Alain Vigneault had a propensity to stay away from that matching. After watching Pavol Demitra: 38 at the Rio Theatre last Monday night, it made me remember just how much I missed him being on Vancouver ice.

The film was done in Slovak, with English subtitles, and chronicles Pavol’s life, from infancy to the last day his wife, Maria, saw him. A thread running through the movie includes Maria’s trip to the crash site – which is now a memorial – where Pavol’s plane ended up.

While you should go in there prepared to cry (I’ve never cried during a film, but I actually came very close to doing so in the first two minutes of this one), be prepared to share a few laughs, too. There are so many great interviews with his former teammates (I won’t spoil the fun, but someone makes comments about Pavol’s fashion sense…), coaches, and with others who trained him. Pavol’s family also shed some light on how hard he worked to get to the NHL, his competitive streak, and how gifted he was in not only hockey – but in other sports, like tennis.

The screening at the Rio was a one-time thing, but if you can find the film, I highly recommend watching it. Some of the shooting styles aren’t the greatest – I’m not a fan of leaving equipment, like boom mics in shots, or awkward jump cuts – but when you get past all that, the film is a wonderful tribute to number 38.

Four out of five from me.



The trailer is in Slovak, without English subtitles.

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