Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Tragedy of KHL Team Causes Hockey World To Mourn

When I spotted the headlines as soon as I felt the emotion punch me in the gut. As if this hockey off-season has to have any more tragedy, the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Russian: Локомотив Яросла́вль) died today in a horrible plane crash that killed 43 people. Included on that plane were many familiar names of NHL players and coach.

According to the news reports, the plane had a difficult time gaining altitude as it took off from the Yaroslavl airport clipping a tower in the process. The plane touched down 9 miles away in the Volga riverbank sending flaming debris in every direction. As if the horrific sight of a crashed plane was too much to bear, searching among the debris for survivors must have been just as taxing on a caring soul.
Among the dead were Pavol Demitra, who played for the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and was the Slovakian national team captain. Also killed were Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenceman Karlis Skrastins and defenceman Ruslan Salei of Belarus, the Emergency Ministry said.
Looking at the biggest name on the list is Demitra. He was easily in the top 5 Slovak hockey players of all time and recently retired from the national team after the Olympics. He signed on to Yaroslavl hoping to finish his career. Will this scare off a number of veterans looking to make the jump over to the KHL? Safety issues in traveling will make more players wonder if playing for more money overseas is even worth it.

The rest of the list also included coach Brad McCrimmon who became the coach only 5 months earlier. He was a Detroit Red Wings assistant who finally got a chance to be a head coach of a pro team. He too will be missed.

A part of this tragedy is not knowing or understanding what to do next. We've looked to sports on a number of occasions to revive our own lives and relieve our mourning. But when the tragedy involves the sport and no doubt bringing it to a halt, the mind will have to search for existential answers elsewhere.

[Via: Rogers Sportsnet]
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