Remembering Lokomotiv

Believe it or not, today is the one-year anniversary of the tragic plane crash in Russia in which all of the members of the KHL club Lokomotiv Yaroslavl aboard were killed.  Hard to believe it’s been a year, but it has.

That day, September 7, 2011, was one of those “where were you when you heard?” moments.  I distinctly remember being at my desk in the Whalers Sports & Entertainment office when a fellow staffer saw the news of the accident on the internet.  The magnitude of the loss just took your breath away.

It happened a long way away from Connecticut, and there was no one among the victims I knew personally, but hockey is such a small world that I felt a fairly strong connection to some of them.

The gregarious head coach, former Hartford Whaler Brad McCrimmon, was with Detroit during the time I was calling games for the Red Wings’ Adirondack affiliate.  McCrimmon’s assistant, Alexander Karpovtsev, was a Ranger for the first four years I worked for the organization, and I knew that Ken Gernander had enjoyed playing with Karpovtsev during Gernander’s tours of duty with the Blueshirts.  I had gotten a glimpse of Karel Rachunek up close at Ranger training camp.  More recently, I had seen Alexander Vasyunov play real well against the Whale/Wolf Pack for Devil affiliates in Lowell and Albany and remembered him and his good friend, Wolf Pack forward Artem Anisimov, exchanging warm postgame greetings after a Devil-Pack battle in which both had played exceptionally well.  And, of course, there were the tons of times I had watched Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei and Josef Vasicek, who I always thought was an underratedly fine player, in NHL action.

I really, personally felt the void of those lives, and those of all the others who were on the plane, having been lost—I can barely imagine what it must have been like to be someone who was truly close to one or more of the unfortunate Lokomotiv team and staff members.

Now, after dropping its team into a lower league for the balance of last season and playing with mostly young players, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is back in the KHL and has already begun its new season, continuing a healing process that has got to have been tortuous.

The franchise’s new coach, like McCrimmon was, is a familiar name to Hartford hockey fans, former long-time Whaler fixture Tom Rowe, who spent three seasons as a Carolina Hurricane assistant coach from 2008-09 through 2010-11.  Rowe explained to Tal Pinchevsky of NHL.com that his relationship with McCrimmon was a big factor in his decision to go to Yaroslavl.

Tom Rowe

“When I was in Lowell, Mike Milbury called and said Brad wanted to get into coaching,” Rowe said to Pinchevsky. “So Brad came up and we spent a couple of hours talking about coaching. We got to know each other pretty well. I look at this as an opportunity to continue Brad’s great work. All the people here absolutely loved him. I want to make him proud. Everybody here is focused to make sure we have a great season to celebrate what that team started last year.”

So far, so good for Rowe and Lokomotiv, as the club won its first game of the new regular season, 5-2 over Sibir Novosibirsk.

 

Also today, dialogue resumed in the NHL labor dispute, which in itself is a positive.  After talks were halted this past Friday, it was sounding like the negotiations were all but stalemated.  There was little comment to the media after an early session today, which veteran hockey commentator Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe opined might be a good sign, tweeting, “League and PA say little after today’s session.  Often an initial sign of progress.  Less interest in using media as strategy.”

Another session was reportedly scheduled for tonight, so let’s hope the proximity of the September 15th CBA expiration is starting to exert some positive pressure to hammer out a deal.

For an excellent rundown of where the two sides currently stand, with plenty of interesting quotes, check out this article by ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun.

 

 

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One Response to “Remembering Lokomotiv”

  1. chris Says:

    u know what i think bob. even if the new cba deal doesn’t get done by Sept 15 it would still b possible for them 2 get a deal done by the scheduled first date of games. y cant they just prepare for the season normally like with traning camps and pre season games then call the lockout the day before the first games r scheduled. that way if the deal is done by the first schedueld games but after sept 15they can still b ready 2 start on time.

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