This summer has been a tragic off-season for the hockey community. First, the hockey community lost three NHL enforcers: Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak. Now, an entire team is lost.
On the first day of the KHL season, the entire roster for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, including 4 prospects, were on their way to Minsk, Belarus for their first hockey game of the season. The first KHL game of the season was already underway between Ufa and HC Atlant when tragedy struck. When reports that a plane carrying the entire Lokomotiv team crashed and killed the majority of team, the first KHL game of the season was suspended.
As of this writing, Alexander Galimov is one of two survivors of the crash. He is still listed in critical condition, suffering from burns and broken bones. There are reports that only one other unidentified person has survived the crash.
This tragedy affects everyone in the hockey community. Many of the players that lost their lives today have ties to many teams throughout the National Hockey League. Ten nations lost one of their own countrymen today.
Two former New Jersey Devils, Karel Rachunek and Alexander Vasyunov, were on that plane. Rachunek was also a former member of the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
Josef Vasicek, who played for the New York Islanders, also died in the crash.
The Czech embassy in Moscow confirmed Rachunek, Vasicek and Jan Marek’s death.
Devils President/CEO/General Manager Lou Lamoriello released the following statement:
“Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news it received today. The tragic plane crash involving Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League has left all of us beyond words. I had the pleasure of knowing several members of the team, plus the entire coaching staff. In particular, Alexander Vasyunov, who played for us last season, was an outstanding young man and a gifted athlete. Captain Karel Rachunek skated for us in 2007-08. Both were members of the Devils family. On behalf of the entire Devils organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the entire Lokomotiv club.”
Having met both Rachunek and Vasyunov during the course of their career, my heart goes out to their families and friends, as well as to all of those families and friends that lost someone today from Lokomotiv.
The KHL is still forced to carry on somehow, even though they’ve lost an entire team to a very unfortunate accident. The entire hockey community stands by them during this time of grief and loss.
Adam Proteau, from The Hockey News, tweeted: “When one person in the hockey world dies too soon, we grieve for the family. On a day like today, we’re all family.”