Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv disaster. One year ago yesterday, a plane carrying the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team to their first KHL game of the year crashed violently into the Volga River, killing 44 people- 37 players and coaches and 7 crew members.
Almost all of the hockey world knew someone on the plane or were touched in someway by the accident. Former NHL players Brad McCrimmon (Head coach), Igor Korolev (Assistant Coach), Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skratins and Josef Vasicek all lost their life in the accident.
Yaroslavl is 300 kilometers north of Moscow. The town is fiercely proud of their hockey team which was a contender for the Gagarin Cup, the KHL title. throughout the day yesterday fans mourned the loss of their hockey team. A mass was held early in the day, followed by a march to the arena. Hundreds of mourners and fans visited the crash site and it’s not uncommon to flowers or wreaths layed at the site.
Left behind are the wives, children, parents and brothers and sisters of those who perished last year. Many of the them descended to Yaroslavl and were created with warmth and compassion from the residents of this town.
Former NHL players and Russian stars came to honour those who died by playing in an exhibition game. Former NHL stars Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier were here along with members from the 1972 Team Canada team who played in the Summit Series. Russian players included Igor Larionov, Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny. Yesterday, was an emotional day for the hockey world.
The KHL scheduled no games for yesterday and the current Lokomotiv team is competing in the top division again this year, after not participating last season. Six former NHL players have joined the current Yaroslavl team along with its new head coach, former Carolina assistant coach Tom Rowe. Former Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis Sanford is the team’s starter.