Tag: rebuilding Lokomotiv


Capitals join forces with Penguins to support families affected by Lokomotiv tragedy

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Normally, a Washington Capitals-Pittsburgh Penguins game urges the use of negative words – it isn’t rare to see the word “hate” thrown around. The two teams probably won’t engage in a group hug on Oct. 13, but there should be an atmosphere of somber positivity during that regular season game.

The two squads announced that the game will usher in a joint effort to benefit the Lokomotiv plane crash victims’ families. The Capitals and Penguins will wear commemorative patches on their jerseys (see: this post’s main image) to honor those lost in that terrible tragedy. Players will autograph those sweaters for NHL.com auctions that run from Oct. 13 through Oct. 27. TSN reports that remembrance bracelets will also be sold to benefit the families.

It’s a fantastic idea that certainly must stem in some way from the fact that both rosters include prominent Russian players. The Capitals feature stars such as Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin while the Penguins boast Evgeni Malkin – just to name the clubs’ biggest stars from the hockey hotbed.

Pittsburgh GM Ray Shero captured the mood appropriately.

“We compete against each other hard on the ice, but off the ice we all are part of one big hockey family,” Penguins General Manager Ray Shero said. “Many of our players had friends on the Lokomotiv team. All of us in hockey were touched by this tragic loss. We just thought the Oct. 13 game was a unique opportunity for our two teams to work together to raise money for the children and families of the players, coaches and staff who lost their lives.”

Hopefully other NHL teams follow the Capitals and Penguins’ leads by finding creative ways to raise money for the many people whose lives were impacted by that awful accident.

(Patch image via Pittsburgh Penguins.)

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

People lay flowers in front of the Arena
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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.

More details emerge about how the KHL will try to move forward from Lokomotiv tragedy

People lay flowers in front of the Arena

Earlier today, PHT shared the latest updates revealing that the KHL decided to postpone the beginning of its 2011-12 season to next week and that the league will ask other teams to help Lokomotiv rebuild their roster. Puck Daddy’s Dmitri Chesnokov spoke with KHL vice president Ilya Kochevrin, who illuminated certain details of the plan and also confirmed or denied certain rumors about how the league will handle this situation.

(Sadly, there are still some other things for the KHL to discuss, a grim reality puncutated by the fact that Kochevrin said that bodies are still being identified while families of the victims are being treated by a team of psychologists.)

Earlier today, we passed along reports that the KHL is hoping that its clubs make as many as three of their players available to Lokomotiv’s rebuilding process. Kochevrin explained where teams and the league are in that process and how the league will help Lokomotiv deal with the financial burden.

“Our priority right now is also to keep hockey in Yaroslavl. We can tell you that more than 30 current active players who have played for Lokomotiv in their careers have announced that they want to come to Yaroslavl to play,” he said, “and the League is setting up an option where those players selected by the new head coach of Lokomotiv and will come to play there, their salary will be paid by their current KHL clubs, those where they are under a contract right now. At least for this season.”

You read that right: The KHL’s other franchises will fund the roster for Lokomotiv under the current option for the League.

“This will be done to alleviate the financial burden that Lokomotiv has right now because the team still has to pay out the entire contract of each player, coach and personnel who died yesterday. They just don’t have this sort of a budget,” Kochevrin continued.

Kochevrin said that every team in the league agreed with this process, which is a great thing to hear. Meanwhile, many people might wonder how the KHL will handle air travel in the wake of this tragedy. It sounds like the league is still ironing out some of those details, but Kochevrin provided a little more information on what will be done to try to keep their players safe.

Is it true that the League will now take over the travel arrangements instead of the teams themselves?

“This is not entirely correct. The League won’t take on this responsibility without consent of all the teams. We can only suggest certain arrangements. For example, Aeroflot has already approached us about becoming the transportation vendor for all the teams. The League has a lot of experience working with Aeroflot and other carriers and we will use that experience to ensure the clubs are presented with the best prices and the best quality of service when they travel. The League will also ensure that the price will be affordable to all the teams, because it could be quite high to use Boeing and Airbus planes. And if the price is higher than what a club has been paying before, the League will consider offering assistance or subsidies to these clubs.”

When asked about further safety measures, Kochevrin said that some steps will be left up to the Russian government itself.

As far as season schedule logistics are concerned, Chesnokov confirms that the league will restart its season next week. Instead of canceling the games during the five-day hiatus, those contests will instead be re-scheduled. Kochevrin said that the KHL conferred with the Russian Hockey Federation to make sure that those postponed dates won’t conflict with the Euro Hockey Tour.

KHL teams will wear a commemorative patch on their jerseys to honor the victims. Chesnokov confirmed earlier reports that the crash’s two survivors (including player Alexander Galimov) were transported to a Moscow hospital but remain in critical condition.

We’ll keep you updated on this situation as more details emerge. While it’s an example of a heartbreaking loss, it could also be an example of a sports league persevering through an unthinkable tragedy.

(Chesnokov also passes along this illustration of how the crash might have happened, via SovSport.)