Peter Budaj and Marek Svatos were teammates, country mates and friends. Needless to say the Los Angeles Kings goaltender was taken aback when Svatos passed away in his Lone Tree, Colo. home late last year.

“It was tough to swallow, definitely a little bit of shock,” Budaj told Terry Frei of the Denver Post. “It’s sad for Marek, but it’s going to be even more sad for his family and his kids and loved ones. It’s going to be a very difficult time and I just want to be there for them if they need anything.”

Svatos died on Nov. 5 at the age of 34 from “combined drug intoxication.” He was survived by his wife, Diana, and their two sons.

Budaj and Svatos broke into professional hockey together during the 2002-03 season with the Hershey Bears (the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL affiliate at the time). They would both remain in the organization until Svatos signed with Avangard Omsk of the KHL in 2010.

“I knew him for a very long time,” Budaj told Frei. “He was the best friend I had. We went through a lot together with national teams in Slovakia when we were young and we played against each other. We were roommates at Hershey (AHL) when we played together my first three years. He was just like my second brother.”