The hockey world was shaken to its core once again Wednesday morning as news surfaced that a terrible plane crash took the lives of at least 43 people, with most of the victims being members of the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. This tragedy continues a nightmare summer for the sport, as people are still trying to process the heartbreaking deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.
This news devastated many people associated with the NHL, with former teammates, opponents and fellow hockey players turning to Twitter to express their grief regarding the shocking news. Before we get to those comments, here is NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s statement on the subject.
“Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world — including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League. Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished.”
Take a look at just a few of the many statements players released on Twitter after learning about what happened.
Alex Ovechkin: “I’m still in shock !!!!! R.I.P …. ”
Michael Grabner: “Another terrible tragedy and loss to the hockey world. Thoughts and prayers go out to all the families … makes my body shake thinking bout it.”
Ryane Clowe: “Hearing the tragic news about the Russian plane crash almost brought me to my knees … So so sad and unfair. Prayers go out to all the families.”
Ilya Bryzgalov: “My deepest condolences go to families and friends of Lokomotiv. My thoughts and prayers are with wives, children and parents of victims.”
Martin Havlat: “I haven’t tweeted in a long time but want to speak today. To all the families of the Yaroslavl players, coaches and to the families of my good friends Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek and Ivan Rachunek, I send out my condolences and sympathies. You will never be forgotten.”
Andrew Ladd: “RIP Joe Vasicek. One of the nicest guys I’ve played with and always came to the rink with a smile on his face. Gone too soon #canes2006.”
Despite the ferocious level of competition involved, the hockey world can be considered a tight-knit community. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s roster contained plenty of players with NHL experience (as well as being coached by former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Brad McCrimmon), so it should come to little surprise that the impact of this news is being felt far beyond the crash site in Russia.
While several thousand Lokomotiv fans gathered outside Yaroslavl arena to mourn the terrible losses during a candle light vigil, countless others struggle with this news. This might be the darkest day in what has been an incredibly bleak summer for hockey.
Update (3:53 p.m.): Here is a statement from NHLPA executive director Donald Fehr.
“Everyone within the NHLPA family is deeply saddened by the tragic passing today of players, coaches and staff from the KHL hockey club, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The club included many former NHLPA members, as well as many members of the international hockey community. Words cannot express the profound sorrow that this loss has created. Our sincere condolences go out to the friends and families who have been impacted by this terrible tragedy.”