One year ago today, those of us on this side of the Atlantic Ocean woke up to the news that tragedy had struck the hockey world yet again, this time on a large scale.
Seconds after taking off, the charter jet carrying the KHL team Yaroslavl Lokomotiv struck a radio tower well beyond the end of the runway and crashed into the river. Everyone aboard, save a player who eventually died of his injuries and a flight engineer who survived, was killed, including former Dallas Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins.
Now, a year later, the search for answers continues. Pilot error has been blamed for the crash, and now a former airline executive has been charged in connection with the crash. Vadim Timofeev, the former deputy director at Yak Service who was in charge of the flight operations, has been charged with violating rules of air traffic safety and air transport operation.
"By putting the crew in the air Timofeev broke the rules of air transport operations. At the moment of the disaster, that crew wasn't entitled to fly," [Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir] Markin stressed. "Timofeev had allowed the captain to fly based on falsified documents, and the co-pilot hadn't finished his training on the Yak-42 plane and had no right to be in air."
There's another article, written in Russia, linked to this Puck Daddy post, and one from The Moscow Times here, but reading more about it doesn't make it any less infuriating. This was such a pointless tragedy that could have been prevented in so many places. And like we talked about last year, the aviation industry in Russia has some significant problems, though spurred on by the crash, the country is taking steps to address many of them.
After the jump, much more on remembering Skrastins and the rest of those lost one year ago today.
- I'm going to start with an article that is several months old, but it's still incredibly powerful and relevant. While we remember Skrastins and what he brought to this hockey team and the game overall, we should also keep the families he and the rest of those involved left behind. This powerful piece about Skratins wife Zane and her three daughters shows just how hard it has been on them, and if the last quote doesn't make you well up, I don't know what will. [DallasNews.com]
- The Skrastins family crossed paths with the family of Ruslan Salei several times, and the two men spent some of their final days together after being excused from some pre-season conditioning. This glimpse into the Salei family's life is just as poignant. Their widows should meet for the first time today at the memorial ceremony in Russia. [ESPN]
- This article is in Latvian, so I'm working from a very sketchy Google translation. But the gist is that there is a book in Latvia about the life of Skrastins. [TVNet.lv]
- Former Stars forward Niklas Hagman is among the former NHL players who will play for Lokomotiv as it returns to the KHL this season. As you might expect, it's a fairly surreal and sad experience for the players on this year's team, who opened the season with a 5-2 win. [Toronto Sun]
- Turning our focus to this year's team, Cody Eakin spent some of the summer skating with his former junior team, and he talked with the local paper about his hopes for the upcoming season. [The Townsman]
- The Stars were obviously not the only team after the services of Jaromir Jagr earlier this offseason, but this is the first I've seen of another confirmed offer. Jagr turned down a one-year, $4.2 million offer from the Columbus Blue Jackets. [Puck-Rakers Blog]
- If you live in the Grapevine area and have a kid who wants to try hockey but isn't sure he or she will enjoy it, the fine folks at Polar Ice are offering a free four-week program to introduce kids to the sport. [DallasNews.com]
- Nicholas Cotsonika has a great take on the CBA negoations, the looming lockout and all the games of leverage that are going on right now. [Yahoo]
- The Idaho Steelheads have sold 4,300 tickets to a Stars exhibition game during training camp, which is supposed to take place in Boise. But the lockout is putting that game, and other revenues that would be generated from the camp, in jeopardy. [KBOI2.com]
- Shane Doan has a contract ready to sign with the Phoenix Coyotes, if only that laborious negotiation between Greg Jamison, the NHL and the city of Glendale work itself out. [Arizona Republic]
- Former Stars center Mike Ribeiro strapped on the goalie pads a few times during informal skates in Dallas, and he continued that tradition with the Washington Capitals. Not only that, but he brought his two sons out to the skate. [Russian Machine Never Breaks]
- In one of the most touching and memorable gestures in the immediate aftermath of the Lokomotiv tragedy, Dynamo Minsk took to the ice on the day they were supposed to play their fallen comrades. Instead of a game, they held an incredibly moving on-ice memorial service. If you only have a few minutes, the condensed version is here, but if you've got some spare time today, the full 35-minute video below is worth your time.