07 September 2011
Writing about tragedy is never easy. This offseason has been a constant reminder that we should cherish the time we have with those that we love. Today we're reminded yet again as misfortune has reigned down on the hockey world. This morning we learned that a plane carrying the Lokomotive Yarolsavi (Kontinental Hockey League) team crashed shortly after takeoff at around 4PM Moscow time. The team was traveling to Belarus to take on Dinamo Minsk for the their first game of the season. According to reports, the plane had trouble gaining altitude which led to a crash into a signal tower, thereby breaking the plane into pieces. The pieces were found in and around the Volga River.
Once emergency personnel had investigated the scene, it was estimated that 43 people died from this accident. There were two survivors in the incident, KHL player Alexander Galimov and a flight engineer. The rest of the flight staff, coaches, and players were pronounced dead. In the last report before sunset, emergency crews had retrieved 35 bodies. Amongst the fallen were former NHL players Pavel Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, and Ruslan Salei. Former Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv, and Los Angeles Kings prospect Jan Marek were also among the people lost.
Despite the constant league battles between the KHL and the NHL, a tragedy of this magnitude has caused everyone to put aside their differences and mourn not only the loss of a hockey team but more importantly the loss of life. National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on behalf of the entire NHL to affirm their support and sympathy to all those who lost loved ones:
"Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world -- including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League. Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."
In the next couple weeks, I'm sure the Russian Emergency Ministry officials will investigate the cause of this crash. There are a few speculations as to the nature of the crash but nothing concrete has been released to explain what occurred today. One can only hope that something like this may never happen again. For many Americans, this crash brings back memories of the 1970 Southern Airways Flight 932. Ice the Office would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to all those lost their lives today in addition to the families and friends who were deeply affected.