Tag: plane crash

APTOPIX Russia Crash

Russian investigators: KHL plane crash happened because of pilot error

1 Comment

The sad story about Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and their horrific plane crash in September now has its closure. Russian authorities have determined that pilot error is the reason why their flight ended in the death of all players and flight crew aboard the jet.

44 people died in the crash back on September 7 and investigators determined that the Yak-42 plane had its brakes activated by the pilot accidentally before takeoff and then over-correcting the situation by trying to elevate the jet too fast. That combination of moves as well as a poorly managed plane and poorly trained flight crew led to disaster.

Such a horrible occurrence will not soon be forgotten by anyone, but here’s to hoping that the determination of what went wrong can lead to some kind of closure for the families and friends of all who perished in the accident.

Video: Pierre McGuire looks at the long term effects of what the Russian plane crash could be

Lokomotiv memorial

The tragedy in Russia that saw all the members of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl perish in a plane crash and leaving just one survivor from the flight has been one of the hardest stories for hockey fans around the world to face up to. From all the former NHL players who died in the crash to all the Russian professionals who lost their lives in the tragedy, it’s been a story that’s affected everyone.

Pierre McGuire, who coached Lokomotiv head coach Brad McCrimmon while with the Hartford Whalers, talked with NBC Sports Talk’s Russ Thaler to discuss what the effects of that tragedy could be on the KHL and to the psyche of all players who make a living hopping planes to travel city to city.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

KHL vice-president: “hockey has a fantastic ability to cure pain”

People lay flowers in front of the Arena
1 Comment

The Kontinential Hockey League is in unchartered waters these days. With the KHL season kicking off this month, the league’s decision-makers are faced with the unenviable task of trying to help a league move forward from this catastrophic event. To a larger degree, they’re faced with the responsibility of helping a city, a sport, and a nation at large cope with a tragedy the hockey world has never seen before. Sensitive situations like these are never easy to deal with.

As fans, friends, and family deal with the grief of losing loved ones, the league must decide what they want to do going forward. It’s an unfortunate nature of business: time doesn’t stop in the midst of bereavement. No matter when the timing KHL chooses to plan for the future, there will be those who think that it’s too soon. It’s an emotionally charged time filled with sorrow, confusion, and even bitterness.

KHL vice-president Ilya Kochevrin understands that emotions are running at an all time high as the league tries to play for the future.

“Sports are based on the emotions. Nobody wants to exploit emotions, but I think you need to keep those emotions going. Otherwise, it’s very easy to switch the emotions to something else…

“People in Yaroslavl will need a place where they can actually put things together for themselves. I think hockey has a fantastic ability to cure pain.”

As Joe said earlier this week, fans and players will look to the game to heal together. One of the first steps towards healing together is returning the game to the city most horribly affected.

Many of the decision-makers within the KHL power structure agree that it would be best if Lokomotiv was rebuilt in some capacity this season. In addition to Kochevrin, KHL president Alexander Medvedev would like to see the existing team help restock the Lokomotiv roster for the current season. The KHL would utilize a dispersal draft (similar to an expansion draft in the NHL) where teams could protect a certain number of players while Yaroslavl selects players to round-out their team.

There will be a service to remember the players lost at Arena 2000 in Yaroslavl on Saturday. After the memorial, the league will meet to determine the most appropriate (and realistic) course of action for the rest of the season. It’s a logistical nightmare to put the team together after the season has already started even if the powers-that-be agree that Lokomotiv should be rebuilt for this season. But under extraordinary circumstances, there’s no telling what the league presidents will be able to accomplish.

I, for one, would like to see the league figure this out and give the people of Yaroslavl something to look forward to this season. While it seems like an impossible situation right now, the city is going to be faced with grief in the coming days, weeks, and even months. If it were an NHL team in a similar situation, an entire season of grief for a fan base would be a horrible way to try to recover. It would be like dealing with another lockout that was caused by losing your heroes in a catastrophe. Like Kochevrin said, the sport can help serve the community by giving the people something to join together and support.

Any way you cut it, this is a nightmare scenario for everyone involved. Hopefully the KHL can figure out the best course of action to help the healing.

Joey MacDonald could have been playing for Lokomotiv

Joey MacDonald

There have been plenty of stories that have filtered out since Wednesday’s horrific crash that devastated the hockey world. From bone-chilling tales detailing the ill-fated flight’s last few minutes, to imagining families being notified, to the stories of players and coaches that left us too soon, it’s been surreal to be a hockey fan over the last few days. After hearing so many tragic stories, it’s welcomed reprieve to hear something positive surrounding such a devastating story.

For Joey MacDonald and his family, they know just how close they came to being part of the “darkest day in the history of our sport.”

The back-up goaltender in Detroit revealed to reporters after practice that he had been contemplating a move to the KHL. More specifically, he was seriously considering a move to play with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv. Sitting as an unrestricted free agent, MacDonald knew he had to keep his options open this summer. He had to weigh two-way contracts, a season or two with Grand Rapids in the AHL, and even the possibility of playing overseas.

If Detroit hadn’t agreed to make the second year of his contract a one-way deal, he likely would have been on that plane with ex-Red Wings Brad McCrimmon and Ruslan Salei:

“It’s tough, especially with me talking to them. If I would’ve known the guys (former teammate Ruslan Salei, Detroit assistant coach Brad McCrimmon) that were going over there, I probably would’ve signed with them.

“Knowing Rusty (Ruslan Salei) was going there… fortunately Detroit stepped up. This is where I always wanted to play and stay as long as I can.”


“I was going over there. I talked to a few teams and there were a couple two-year deals pretty much figured out.

“I talked to them (Yaroslavl) early, before the end of the season. I know they are a great organization.

“No one wants to think about that (how close he came to being on the plane).”

(h/t to Kukla’s Korner)

While all of us grieve the tragedy, MacDonald and his family appreciate just how lucky they are—something that has nothing to do with hockey whatsoever. He even went as far to say that he’d have second thoughts if he was confronted the same decision in two years when his current contract expires. MacDonald explained that other players in the same situation may be hesitant as well:

“I don’t know (if I’d go in the future). Probably not, because my wife is kind of freaked out about it, especially when it was one of the teams I had talked to.

“It would be a tough decision. As of now, I’m here for two years and I don’t have to worry about anything.”


“I’m sure it will (affect players’ decisions to play in Russia). I’m sure a lot of players that were thinking about playing in Russia, their decisions will be made a little easier now.”

For now, MacDonald will battle for his place on the Red Wings. In 15 games with the Wings last season, MacDonald put up some of the best numbers of his career. Despite a pedestrian 5-5-3 record, he had a .917 save percentage and 2.58 goals against average. He gave up three or less goals in 14 out of 15 appearances; just imagine what his numbers would have looked like if he could have avoided the 7 goals against St. Louis in his last appearance of the season.

With Chris Osgood stepping away from the game (as a player), it leaves MacDonald and Ty Conklin to fight for the back-up spot behind Jimmy Howard this season. Looking ahead, Conklin is only signed for one more season before his contract runs out. If MacDonald can hold off former first rounder Thomas McCollum, the back-up job is his to lose in 2012-13.

But today, all of the hockey stuff is secondary. MacDonald is just grateful that he didn’t end up signing that contract to play in the KHL this season. In this case, real life trumps hockey.

Must-click link: One of the saddest stories relating to the Lokomotiv tragedy you’ll read

Karlis Skrastins
1 Comment

It’s difficult to find the right words in trying to describe what happened on Wednesday surrounding the events in Russia. The plane crash that resulted in 43 deaths including nearly the entire roster of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a story too gruesome and too sad for any of us to comprehend in a normal way.

For one sports fan in Texas, his encounter with the tragedy in Russia was a far more direct and saddening one. Hearing and reading about what happened in Russia and being affected by that is one thing, but having to drive the family of one of the players killed to the airport so they could fly to Russia because of it is another thing entirely.

Such is the story that’s told as the author at A Chick’s Perspective tells the tale of having to take Karlis Skrastins’ family to the airport where their lives were about to be changed for the worse.

If you’re not eager to read this, we understand. It’s a very sad and moving story and works as an outsider’s take on a story that doesn’t quite directly involve them. Instead, it throws them into the middle of the entire situation with a gut-wrenching twist.

Update (9/8 – 10 p.m.): As noted in the comments, the author has removed the post out of respect for Skrastins’ family.