Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday sent shockwaves across the hockey world.
The former NBA star, along with his 13-year-old daughter Gianna, were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash outside Los Angeles.
Bryant, who won five NBA championships with the Los Angeles Lakers and is the league’s fourth all-time leading scorer with 33,643 points, was 41 years old.
“I was hoping it was not true,” forward Alex Ovechkin said after the Washington Capitals practiced in Montreal. “You don’t want to hear somebody (is in a) crash in a helicopter and passes away. It’s tough. I know him, he always treated me well when he saw me. It’s hard. He was a legend in the basketball world, in the whole world. I still can’t believe it.
“I met him three or four times after games. He always shook my hand, he knows who I am. I remember when I was in the stands and he’d point to me. It’s hard, it’s hard.”
Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer who played eight seasons with the Los Angeles Kings from 1988-1996, expressed his condolences on Twitter.
Current Kings captain Anze Kopitar also tweeted out his condolences.
The NHL released the following statement on Bryant:
“The National Hockey League offers its condolences to the family of NBA legend Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, and to the families and friends of all those who tragically perished today.”
Other NHL players, alumni and executives took to Twitter upon hearing the news.