ST. LOUIS - SEPTEMBER 20: A video tribute to the members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv Russian hockey team that were killed in a plane crash is played prior to a pre-season game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the St. Louis Blues at the Scottrade Center on September 20, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. The Blues beat the Lightning 3-1. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
Usually I can write a mile a minute about things that I feel strongly about, and this September there are no shortage of things going on in the NHL that I have an opinion on. But the one-year anniversary of the loss of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL team, which included former Blues Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev -- well, this isn't something where words come easily.
It's always heartbreaking when someone loses a father, or a son, or a brother, or anyone at all. To have that happen to 44 families all at once, and due to circumstances that damn well could have been avoided... it blows my mind. I don't have a saber rattling opinion about air safety in Russia. I don't have any personal remembrances to share other than how much I loved watching Demitra play (and how much I respected former Thrashers assistant coach Brad McCrimmon's work with that team). I don't really have much to say at all, because I suck at vocalizing when it comes to heartbreak.
I would like to point you in the direction of a few articles. The first is a Jeff Gordon article about Korolev back from 1993. The second, in harsh contrast, is an interview with his daughter from Rogers Sportsnet Magazine -- I will warn you it comes with video and if you're easily upset, well, don't read or watch it until you get home from work.
Finally, I'd like to direct you guys to Scott Burnside's article from today. I know, the first thing I thought of as well too was "oh, nice, ESPN's covering it," but it's Burnside -- you know he'll say something and say it well. It's very Blues-centric, and includes this gem about Demitra's close friend Keith Tkachuk:
During the playoffs this past spring, Tkachuk was shown on the scoreboard at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis sporting a Blues jersey, and the crowd responded enthusiastically. When he turned to reveal he was wearing No. 38 with Demitra's name stitched across the shoulders, the crowd went crazy.
I hate to use the trite "gone, but not forgotten" line here, but that's true today for everyone on board that plane.