Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A Sad Summer for the Hockey Community

These past few months have been brutal for the hockey family. Brutal. First, it was the accidental overdose of Derek Boogaard, the much loved enforcer for the Minnesota Wild and NY Rangers. He was 28 years old. Only three months later, the death of Rick Rypien, who had been battling depression. He was 27. And then, most recently, the suicide of Wade Belak, who had recently retired from the NHL. He was 35. Hockey is a small little family and we reeled from these losses, but we hadn't seen anything yet. Anything like today.

A plane carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, Balarus for the opening game of their season crashed shortly after takeoff. The entire team and crew perished as the plane broke up and fell into a nearby lake. No storm, no bad weather, just peaceful blue sunny skies, an aging plane, and a group of men in the prime of their lives with family and friends who will mourn them for a lifetime.

Some of them were known NHL names, some were youngsters on the brink of success. There were men from many countries and backgrounds, ready to start a new hockey season, anxious to put skates on the ice in front of a stadium of supportive fans.

Almost every NHL team lost someone today, and we lost something more. That innocence that when our team flies off on a road trip, that they will certainly all return home safe and sound. There is a little bit of doubt now. Just a little bit. Our planes are newer, and safer certainly, but on any given day, who knows what could happen.

RIP, Team Lokomotiv. Our condolences and prayers are with you and with the friends and families that you have left behind. You will be missed. You will be mourned.

Enough, hockey gods. Whatever we have done to piss you off, we are sorry. We have had enough.