This summer has been one of those summers that you wish that you could forget. This morning, myself and the hockey world learned of a plane crash that has shaken and continues to shake this giant hockey family of ours to it's core.
A plane carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team of the KHL crashed and almost all on board perished. As a hockey fan, first thoughts were complete sadness and prayers sent to the families of those players, coaches, and all on the plane. After a moment, the tragedy hit home. Closer to home than I ever expected. Three former members of the Red Wings organization joined former NHLers and KHL stars on board that flight to Minsk.
The three that hit home:
December 21, 1980 - September 7, 2011
Stefan Liv was a fourth round draft pick for the Detroit Red Wings in 2000. Stefan spent just one year with the Red Wings organization and played most of the with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the 2006-2007 season. Liv earned five medals while representing his home country of Sweden including gold medals in both the Olympics and World Cup championships in 2006.
November 2, 1974 - September 7, 2011
Ruslan Salei was drafted into the NHL 9th overall in the 1996 Draft to the Ducks. After spending 11 seasons with the Ducks franchise, Salei turned into somewhat of an NHL journeyman. Salei played for 10 teams in his professional hockey career (Lokomotiv was set to be his 11th). Rusty, as he was affectionately known as, was a very funny individual and a rough and tough player. A proud Belarusian, Salei competed 14 times in international competitions representing Belarus.
March 29, 1959 - September 7, 2011
Brad McCrimmon was a talented coach and former player. McCrimmon was drafted 15th overall in the 1979 Draft to the Boston Bruins. Brad played for six NHL teams in his career including a three year stint with the Detroit Red Wings. After retiring, Brad took up coaching. Brad served as head coach for the Saskatoon Blades in the WHL and Assistant Coach for four NHL franchises. Being the head coach of the Lokomotiv was supposed to be Brad's way of breaking back into the world of being a head coach in professional hockey since he hadn't served as a head coach since 2000.
I know my words have not done justice to the amazing lives that these players lived nor can I fully attest to how many lives these players have touched. All who are in mourning have my deepest sympathies, my thoughts, and my prayers going out to them. Not just the families of the the three that hit close to home. Hockey is a family and today we lost too many of our brothers.
Children are left without fathers, Parents are left without children, Wives have lost their husbands, Many are left with the loss of friends, and fans have lost their heroes. At the end of the day, We are all left with terrible circumstances and broken hearts.