Wednesday, September 7, 2011

New York Rangers Deeply Connected to Tragic Lokomotiv Plane Crash

The entire hockey world is in mourning over the tragic plane crash in Russia carrying the KHL Lokomotiv Yaroslavl franchise.  In all, the plane crash has claimed the life of 43 people and left two critically injured.  The New York Rangers organization is connected to the tragedy through s former players Karel Rachunek and Alexander Karpotsev, former 2003 draft pick Jan Marek. 

The Rangers are also connected to the tragic events of today with their current roster and the impact of those connections will not be known for some time.  Rangers center Artem Anisimov is a product of the Yaroslavl system, playing on the adult team during the 2006-07 season.  Jesse Spector over at Blueshirts Blog has quotes from Anisimov on the tragic events of this morning.
“I know these people, half the team,” Anisimov said. “Young guys, we’ve grown up together, you know? In Russia, they have school – it’s one organization, Yaroslavl. You go to the hockey school growing up, play with the second team and then you grow up and play with the first team, so a bunch of young guys I know, and the medical staff, all the staff, I know too. So sad.”
The biggest personal loss for Anisimov is that of former New Jersey Devil Alexander Vasyunov who was said to be among Anisimov’s closest friends after they grew up and came through the ranks together.

For Henrik Lundqvist the loss was Swedish national teammate Stefan Liv.  Liv was the backup goaltender for the national team.  According to Andrew Gross when told of the news this morning Lundqvist buried his heads in his hands and talked about how Liv was also married this summer.

In the case of Marian Gaborik the loss was of former NHL All-Star Pavol Demitra whom he was very close to because of his time with him both on the Slovakian national team and Minnesota Wild.  This is the second major loss for Gaborik after he and the entire team had to handle the loss of Derek Boogaard.

Today is a tragedy not just for the sport of hockey, but it shows the depth of the connections that the hockey family has when a plane in Russia goes down and the number of people impacted all over the world from it is as high as this one is.  There is no telling what the impact of this crash will be, but today the hockey world and the connections the New York Rangers had to this tragedy lead to a level of mourning that puts everything else into perspective.