The horrific off-season for hockey, which saw us lose Derek Boogaard to an accidental overdose in May, and Rick Rypien and Wade Belak due to suicide in August, just got about a million times worse. I woke up at 10:30 this morning to read that the plane carrying Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, a team in Russia’s KHL, had crashed. There are still conflicting reports, but it is confirmed that over forty are dead, including quite a few former NHL players and prospects. The last report was that two people had actually survived, including a flight attendant and one of the players, Alexander Galimov, who had burns on 80% of his body, and was in a coma. It now appears, sadly, that he will not pull through, even though it is said that the doctors are fighting hard.
Not to say that the lives of the former NHL players here are more important, but they are just the names we would recognize. Former New York Ranger Alexander Karpovstev, who won the Stanley Cup with them in 1994 (one of the first Russians to ever do so) was on board, due to him being an assistant coach. Another NHL vet from the 80’s and 90’s, head coach Brad McCrimmon, was also killed. Among more recent players included are Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, and Ruslan Salei, as well as New Jersey Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov, who played 18 games for the team this past season, but wanted to get more playing time in Russia to improve, before coming back to the team.
This crash will do a lot to effect the lives of the players currently in the NHL. Demitra was best friends with Marian Gaborik and Zdeno Chara, among others, while their goaltender who was also killed, Stefan Liv, was very close with Henrik Lundqvist. Gaborik also lost his other good friend Boogaard in May. There are countless relationships that have been torn here, and there is no telling how deeply this tragedy will affect a league that was already shaken this summer by the deaths of three players. It is too early to attach the blame of this plane crash on anyone, but there has been speculation that the plane took off heavily overloaded, which caused it to not get much lift, and strike a radar tower. It was after that when the plane supposedly split in two and caught fire, the flames shooting ninety feet into the air.
All I can say is that my thoughts and prayers are with the players, families, and friends in this day of sorrow. This can equate to be the “Day Hockey Died” in the coming months, as every hockey player, professional or not, is affected in some way. This is the type of event that no one ever dares to talk about, because of the unspeakable horror it would cause, but now it has happened, and unfortunately, we are helpless to do nothing.