On Sept. 7, 2011, the hockey world suffered one of the most significant tragedies in the history of the sport when a Russian plane crashed and killed most members of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv.
Forty-four people died as a result of the crash, and the first anniversary weighs heavily on the families, friends and hockey community that remains. Alex Ovechkin and Stanislav Galiev both knew players who lost their lives in the crash.
“It’s hard memory, it’s very hard to remember,” Ovechkin said after an informal workout Friday at KCI. “Of course the guys, all the team, is going to be in our hearts but right now there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to think about them and pray.”
Ovechkin was a teammate of Alexander Galimov, who survived the crash but died five days later after suffering burns over 90 percent of his body. Galiev knew three young players who died in the crash — Sergei Ostapchuk, Yuri Urychev and Daniil Sobchenko.
“Obviously it’s going to probably be worst day in the hockey world,” Galiev said Friday. “This day is still in our minds. It’s hard for families, wives, kids. But they have new team and it will be new life for the team.”
Lokomotiv has indeed been rebuilt and the team won its first game of the new KHL season Thursday. The new squad includes two players with ties to the Capitals, veteran forward Viktor Kozlov, who spent the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons in Washington; and defenseman Sami Lepisto, a 2004 Washington draft pick.
A few other notes:
— While it comes as no surprise, especially after Ovechkin’s comments earlier in the week, the star left wing made it clear Friday that he will play in the KHL in the event of an NHL lockout. “No one wants to be in a lockout but if [there is one] I’m going to play in the KHL. It’s not a surprise.”
— Eleven Capitals were on the ice Friday for the latest informal workout. They were: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Ribeiro, Marcus Johansson, Matt Hendricks, Mike Green, John Erskine, Michal Neuvirth, Dmitry Orlov, Stanislav Galiev and Mattias Sjogren.