Sep 9, 2011

The worst summer ever for hockey

According to his Twitter account, when THN writer Adam Proteau broke the news of the plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team to Chicago's Jonathan Toews, Toews said: "This is the worst summer ever for hockey."

It's hard to disagree. On May 13, New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment in Minneapolis. He hadn't been able to play since December 2010 due to a concussion, and died accidentally from a combination of oxycodone and alcohol.

On August 15, Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien was likewise found dead in his home. After a ten-year battle with depression, Rypien had committed suicide.

Just a few weeks later, former NHL enforcer Wade Belak was found dead. According to the Star, he had hanged himself.


As if all this wasn't enough, this Wednesday the Yak-42 passenger jet carrying the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed on takeoff, killing the entire team except one forward, Alexander Galimov, who was in critical condition at the time of writing.

This was the third plane crash to hit a major hockey team. On February 13th, 1975, a plane carrying Frölunda players crashed near Gävle in Sweden, leaving seven players injured. In 1950, a Li-2 transport plane crashed near Sverdlovsk in the Soviet Union, killing the whole Soviet Air Force hockey team.

Among the dead in Wednesday's crash are one of the four first Russian players to ever win the Stanley Cup, assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, also a 1993 world champion.

Coach Brad McCrimmon, a Stanley Cup winner with the Calgary Flames.

2005 world champion and 2006 Stanley Cup champion with the Carolina Hurricanes, Josef Vašíček.

2006 Olympic gold medalist and world champion Stefan Liv.

2010 world champion and two-time inline hockey world champion Karel Rachůnek.

2010 world champion Jan Marek.

2000 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner Pavol Demitra.

2003 Stanley Cup finalist and NHL veteran Ruslan Salei.

NHL veteran Kārlis Skrastiņš.

32 other players, coaches, staff and airline crew also died in the accident.

I was planning on writing a season preview for the NHL, but I ended up having to write this. This has to be the most tragic off-season and beginning of the new season ever in hockey. It's simply terrible how many people have died. Our thoughts and condolences are with the nearest and dearest of everyone who passed away.

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