As NHL.com’s John Kreiser points out, the NHL has been lucky enough to have never dealt with a catastrophe on the level of what the KHL is going through after Lokomotiv Yaraslavl’s tragic plane crash today.
That’s not to say that there haven’t been any accidents that have shaken up the NHL before, though. Former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Bill Barilko died in a plane crash in 1951 months after scoring a Stanley Cup-winning goal while former Los Angeles Kings player Ace Bailey and fellow scout Mark Bavis were aboard the second plane that crashed into the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001.
That being said, there has never been a situation in which an NHL franchise had to completely rebuild its team because of such a tragedy. Naturally, many people probably couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if an NHL team suffered a similar fate as Lokomotiv did today. Japer’s Rink unearthed a story from the Metro News that explains the league’s “Emergency Rehabilitation Plan.”
The piece explains that the league requires teams to have $1 million insurance policies for all of its players to cover a nightmare scenario like a plane crash. Here’s the rest of the details about such a situation via the Metro News.
If a team is left with fewer than 14 players and one goaltender following some sort of catastrophe, the league sets in motion its Emergency Rehabilitation Plan.
First, the “disabled team” would be allowed to negotiate to buy players under contract from other teams, with payment coming from the insurance money.
If that didn’t fill out the roster, a draft would be held, much like an expansion draft. Teams could protect 10 players and one goalie.
The disabled team would be allowed to take no more than one player from each of the other teams. The price for each player is $1 million in insurance money.
Considering the millions of miles that hockey teams travel, it only makes sense to have a contingency plan, even if it feels a bit morbid to imagine the details. There have been quite a few instances in which sports teams or individuals were involved in plane crashes, so the NHL should feel lucky to avoid such a tragedy. (You can read more about the history of such sad moments in sports here and here [H/T to James Mirtle]).
Let’s hope that we’ll never need to see the Emergency Rehabilitation Program in action, even if it’s a good thing to know that it exists.