Photo: The Hockey Writers
Five years ago today, the hockey world was turned upside down when the plane of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed shortly after takeoff, killing the entire team. NoVa Caps is remembering the victims and the effect it had on the hockey world.
On its way to a game in Minsk, Belarus, the plane of the Kontinental Hockey League’s (KHL) Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crashed shortly after taking off. It happened 1.2 miles from the nearest airport, hit a tower, caught fire, and then crashed.
AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky, Pool
The crash claimed the lives of the entire team (except for forward Maxim Zyuzyakin, who was not on the flight at the time), coaching staff (except goalie coach Jorma Valtonen, also not on the flight), as well as four players from the Minor Hockey League (MHL).
Amongst the players killed in the crash were former NHLers Pavol Demitra, who played in 847 NHL regular season games and recording 768 points (304 goals, 464 assists), Ruslan Salei (a veteran of over 900 NHL games and more than 200 points), and Karlis Skrastins. Assistant coaches Brad McCrimmon and Igor Korolev were also ex-NHL players.
While the crash occurred on the other side of the world, it had a huge impact on the NHL; particularly its Russian players. Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (as well as all other NHL players) wore a Lokomotiv Yaroslavl patch in memory of his countrymen. The NHL took a moment of silence in the games played following the tragedy. Former NHL players also expressed their sympathies in the hours following the crash. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl had to withdraw from competition for the season and since then, the team has rebuilt the roster and coaching staff.
Photo HO/AFP/Getty Images
While it will always be a day that hockey fans will try to forget for obvious reasons, the memories of its unfortunate victims will forever be remembered by those who knew them best. NoVa Caps is proud to honor the memory of the players and coaches who were taken too soon.
Written in memory of the victims of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash on September 7, 2011.
By Michael Fleetwood