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Lokomotiv Yaroslavl remembered, revived year after KHL air crash

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Fan memorials to the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team that perished in the 2011 KHL air crash began immediately and will continue with a march through the club’s home city as a new season dawns. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP/Getty Images)

By Stu Hackel

They had bright hopes for a new season. They rolled down the runway, taking off for their opening game, which was to be played the next evening in Minsk. The entire playing roster, plus four members of the youth team as well as the coaching and training staffs were on board, as was a crew of eight. Their plane ran off the runway before takeoff, didn’t gain much altitude, hit a signal tower and fell into the Volga River just over a mile from the Tunoshna Airport. All but one person, a flight attendant, were killed.

Friday marks the first anniversary of the worst tragedy ever to hit the hockey world, the Yaroslavl plane crash in which 37 members of the Lokomotiv KHL team perished . A silent march through the streets of Yaroslavl, a true hockey town long devoted to the club, will mark the occasion. But Thursday, the re-formed Lokomotiv team returns to playing its KHL season opener, visiting Sibir Novosibirsk.

UPDATE: With three second period goals, Lokomotiv defeated Sibir 5-2. More details below.

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  • Published On Sep 06, 2012
  • Chris Chelios tops stellar USA Hockey Hall class; Lokomotiv returns

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    Chris Chelios’ resume more than stacks up against any other American-born player. (Frank Gunn/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    Is Chris Chelios the greatest American-born player in hockey history? Good question. Perhaps he is.

    Chelios will be inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame during a ceremony in his hometown of Chicago tonight, and he’s among a truly stellar group of inductees — perhaps the best class ever for this Hall — that includes the highly underrated defenseman Gary Suter, power forward Keith Tkachuk, broadcaster Mike Emrick and Flyers owner Ed Snider.

    In The Chicago Tribune today, Steve Rosenbloom makes the case for Chelios as the best player ever produced in the U.S., admitting that while he wasn’t the greatest skater, passer, stickhandler or shooter, no one has ever combined skill, smarts, leadership, toughness and longevity the way Chelios did.

    Rosenbloom elaborates on this — it’s worth reading — and makes a very strong case for Chelly.

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  • Published On Dec 12, 2011
  • GMs support Shanny, Loko’s rebirth and empty seats in Big D

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    Despite the fears of some general managers, hitting is not disappearing from the game as the NHL cracks down on dangerous play. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

    By Stu Hackel

    While some NHL general managers prefer to anonymously whisper to reporters about their support or lack thereof for the NHL’s crackdown on dangerous play — a crackdown they called for themselves — one GM at least has the courage to speak publicly: the Blackhawks’ Stan Bowman.

    “This is what the league has to do and I applaud the steps they’ve taken,” Bowman told Tim Sassone of the suburban Arlington Daily Herald. “At the end of the day the players have to stop doing this to each other. Penalties, and making them severe, it’s the way to go. The NHL should be applauded.

    “We want this to be a safe game for the players and they’ve done a tremendous job. I definitely support it. The chances are one of our players will be on either side of it, but that’s how it goes.”

    Bravo to Bowman for his strong support of a safer NHL, putting the game’s interest above his team’s and not buying into the canard that the severe suspensions the league has been handing down so far this season will dilute the game’s physical play. He’s certainly not alone in his sentiment, but it’s refreshing to see a GM who is willing to have his name attached to it in print.
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  • Published On Oct 12, 2011
  • Reporting on NHL’s finances is often goofy; KHL now seeking detente with NHL

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    His franhcise heading into bankruptcy, Tom Hicks won’t be in the Dallas Stars’ owner’s box much longer. (LM Otero/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    We’re getting kind of anxious for training camps to open because the off-ice news this summer has been so joyless. The prospect tournaments and rookie camps now underway make for more enjoyable reading. Still, we can’t ignore some big off-ice stories. While yesterday’s reports of the Devils being near or in bankruptcy were rather inaccurate (the New York Post backpedaled today), one NHL club is filing: the Dallas Stars. Tom Hals of Reuters reports that it could happen as soon as Wednesday, with the team quickly being sold out of bankruptcy to Vancouver investor Tom Gaglardi.

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  • Published On Sep 13, 2011
  • KHL’s new Lokomotiv won’t play this season

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    Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was one of the KHL’s top teams. (Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR-TASS /Landov)

    By Stu Hackel

    The KHL season restarts today, but without Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The team will not be reformed this season with new players in the wake of last Wednesday’s air disaster in which the entire roster perished. Instead, the newly created Lokomotiv will resume play next season.

    That was the decision announced Saturday by Vladimir Yakunin, the head of Russian Railways, the team’s owner; Yuri Yakovlev, Lokomotiv team president; and Sergei Vakhrukov, the governor of the Yaroslav region, as reported by Sovietsky Sport on Sunday.

    “We must show sensitivity and awareness,” said Yakunin.

    “The whole world mourns with us,” added Yakovlev. “In these difficult times we must act correctly, observing all the universal values ​​and those of the club. Our primary task is to take care of loved ones, families of the victims. That is conduct worthy of the guys who were on their last journey.”

    The three officials addressed reporters briefly after the funeral for the players that was held at the club’s arena in Yaroslavl on Saturday. About 100,000 people, including Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, gathered in and around the building to pay their respects to the team. “For the first time in my life, I had trouble entering an ice arena,” KHL chairman and former NHL star Slava Fetisov said. “It’s an inexplicable tragedy.”

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  • Published On Sep 12, 2011
  • Haunted by sudden death from the sky

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    The entire hockey world has been left mourning the loss of life in the KHL plane crash. Fans in Sweden gathered to honor goaltender Stefan Liv, a local and national hero who played for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. (Reuters photos)

    By Stu Hackel

    The first coherent thought I had when I woke too early this morning was that it would be great for the NHL to have all its teams wear a patch with the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl crest on their jerseys during the first weeks of the season to honor the players who perished on Wednesday.  Sometimes first thoughts that rise before the sun vanish along with the morning darkness, but this one stuck around.

    And then the plane flew over.

    On the nights that I have trouble sleeping, the sound I dread most is that of the first flight out from the airport near my house. It means I don’t have time to fall back asleep. But when I can’t sleep because an air tragedy has shocked me, I dread that sound even more, my mind connecting it with death. I got that dreadful feeling 10 years ago, and it happened again this morning.
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  • Published On Sep 08, 2011


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