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Hospital Releases Red Wings Player

November 10, 1997

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) _ Detroit Red Wings defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov was released from the hospital Sunday, nearly five months after suffering head injuries in a limousine crash that had left him comatose.

Konstantinov left William Beaumont Hospital and will accompany his family to Florida to continue rehabilitation from the June 13 crash, the hospital said in a statement.

``It is kind of sad to think that we’re going to leave town because we feel about Detroit as a home and we don’t think about any permanent move,″ Irina Konstantinov, the injured player’s wife, said in a statement released by the hospital.

``But I believe in the summertime we’ll be back to Detroit where friends and fans will be able to see Vlady back, hopefully, feeling much better by then.″

The limousine crash blamed on chauffeur Richard Gnida left Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov in comas for several weeks. Gnida and Red Wings defenseman Vyacheslav Fetisov suffered minor injuries.

Mnatsakanov remains in good condition at Beaumont and is expected to be released to an outpatient rehabilitation program later this month, the hospital said.

Gnida, 28, was sentenced Friday to nine months in jail, 15 months of probation and 200 hours of community service for driving with a suspended license when the limousine struck a tree in the Detroit suburb of Birmingham.

The crash happened as the men were being driven by Gnida from a team golf outing six days after Detroit won its first Stanley Cup since 1955.

During a private ceremony Saturday in his hospital room, Konstantinov’s teammates handed him his championship ring.

Earlier this week, Konstantinov said the names of his wife and daughter, Anastasia, for the first time since the accident, the hospital said.

He has been speaking English and his native Russian since, has been improving in his reading and writing skills and has taken his first steps with help from the hospital’s staff.

``We believe we have given him a good start on the road to recovery and hope the warmer climate, and the opportunity to spend more time outdoors, will advance the excellent progress made so far,″ said Sherry Viola, a Beaumont rehabilitation specialist.

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