Wednesday marks the fifth anniversary of the tragic Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash that claimed the lives of 44 people, including every member of the KHL team and its entire coaching staff.
The fatal crash occurred when a Yak-42 aircraft carrying the team failed to get to a flying altitude after leaving the runway, which resulted in it crashing into a beacon tower and into a riverbank. The plane reportedly burst into flames, and only two people aboard the flight, 26-year-old winger Alexander Galimov and crew member Alexander Sizov, survived the initial impact. Days after the crash, however, Galimov lost his life.
Among the players and staff on the plane were several former NHL players, including Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins, Karel Rachunek and Stefan Liv. Coaches Brad McCrimmon, Igor Korolev and Alexander Karpotsev were all also former NHLers, and were also tragically among those who passed away in the crash.
In memory of those who passed away in the crash, Lokomotiv’s official Twitter account released a short video showing members of the team along with a message. A rough translation of the video reads, “Our team forever, in our hearts, for the sake of their memory,” and concludes by with the words, “We remember. We will win. Our team forever.”
As part of the league’s remembrance of the tragic events, the KHL official Twitter account released a simple but heartfelt message in memory of the 2011-12 Lokomotiv team, stating that no games would be played today or on any Sept. 7 in the future. And the outpouring of support for Lokomotiv, the KHL and the players who passed continued to come from throughout the hockey world.
Nearly every team from the KHL took to social media to pay their respects. One such team was Dinamo Minsk, who added a photo of the ceremony that took place in Minsk following the crash. Lokomotiv was attempting to fly to Minsk when the crash occurred. Clips from the ceremony can be seen below, including each Dinamo player putting a single puck into their own net to represent one goal for each of the Lokomotiv players who passed away:
— ХК Динамо-Минск (@hc_dinamominsk) September 7, 2016
The mourning went beyond the KHL, though. Before the Russian national team practiced Wednesday in preparation for the World Cup, they held a moment of silence at center ice:
— Хоккей России (@russiahockey) September 7, 2016
And a number of NHL teams, including those who had connections to Lokomotiv through former players, joined in celebrating the lives of those who passed away:
This day five years ago is one we’ll never forget.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) September 7, 2016
Hard to believe it’s been 5 years since we lost Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins.
— Colorado Avalanche (@Avalanche) September 7, 2016
— Detroit Red Wings (@DetroitRedWings) September 7, 2016
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) September 7, 2016