A Tough, Sad Off Season For Hockey
Unbelievable summer. First the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot, then Derek Boogard dies, followed by Rick Rypien then we lose Wade Belak, and now a plane crash that took the lives of almost an entire hockey team in Russia. As the plane crash was being reported, Sidney Crosby holds a press conference to communicate that he is still suffering from his concussion and will return “sometime”.
I have posted in memory of Rick Rypien and Derek Boogard in the past. I had a shallow connection with Wade Belak, having watched him play on several occasions when he was a Saskatoon Blade. A first round pick in the annual NHL draft, he earned a niche in the league as a big strong defenceman, with enforcer qualities. I feel that even though he had the build for it, and the toughness, he would have been a much more successful player being that number 3 or 4 defence guy, the one that is stable as a rock, few mistakes and a goalies best friend. Another one gone to young.
The crash in Russia was mind boggling. The team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, was decimated in the crash, which killed 43 of the 45 people on board. The connections to the North American game included the coach, Brad McCrimmon, an ex: Brandon Wheat King, who played with the Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames and the Philadelphia Flyers during a successful and lengthy NHL career.
The Europeans who had played in the NHL were
Igor Korolev, who was assistant coach of the team. He played with the old Winnipeg Jets, following the team to Phoenix. He also played with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Pavol Demitra, a star with the St Louis Blues and several other teams.
Karel Rachunek, who played with Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers and the New Jersy Devils.
Ruslan Salei, a solid defencemen, best know for his time with the Anaheim Ducks and the Detroit Red Wings.
Karlis Skrastins, another solid defenseman that spent time with Nashville Predators and the Colorado Avalanche, enough time to set the NHL record for consecutive games played by a defenceman, 495.
Josef Vasicek, who played most of his career with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Rest in Peace.
- Wade Belak found dead (macleans.ca)
- Ex-Canucks star Pavol Demitra among Russian crash dead (cbc.ca)
- Sask.-born hockey coach killed in jet crash (cbc.ca)
- Plane Crash Extends Horrific Summer for NHL (nytimes.com)
- Remembering players, coaches who died in KHL crash (cbc.ca)