I've kept quiet with the stories that have upset the hockey world this summer out of fear that making a quick, newsie like post was going to look more like opportunism than an actual attempt to share information. I had nothing relevant to add to the news of the passing of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak.
The Boogaard news hurt. There's the name recognition aspect and remembering that the Bolts almost acquired the guy in 2010 at the NHL trade deadline. My friend and colleague here at SB Nation, Bryan Reynolds of Hockey Wilderness, had taken things very hard and very personally too, so I was exposed to that. I kept my mouth shut.
Yesterday, with the news of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv... While I was compelled to get a news piece up on this... That news snippet did no justice to the horrific news. It did not share my emotional state on things. It didn't speak of the loss of life, nor how things were being felt across the globe (yes, globe. Note that, ESPN. I'll come back to that).
The story was left blank, just as blank as I felt in the wake of such a disaster.
My shock wore off as the day progressed and I got more and more emotional as it wore on. 43 people were dead, while one survivor clings to life with 3rd degree burns over 80% of his body.
Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Alexander Vasyunov, Igor Koralev, Alexander Karpovtsev and Karlis Skrastins and former player and coach Brad McCrimmon. Gone.
"He was a very passionate and and intense player," Verbeek added. "He came to play every day. He was the sort of guy you loved to have on your team."
With all the players - both NHL veterans, KHL veterans and young up and coming talent, 11 countries suffered losses yesterday. A world spanning and hockey-spanning event at that. There are a good massing of quotes over on Sports Illustrated.com with statements from several NHL teams, the league, and the International Ice Hockey Federation represented.
A lot of people from around the globe did a lot of coverage on this. Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy broke the news to the North American hockey community and has worked non-stop to give you a story from inside Russia. His Twitter coverage is required reading.
Of all the sources on this story that I could suggest and point you toward, I cannot point at ESPN. Laura Astorian posted a damning story about the self-proclaimed "Worldwide Leader in Sports" neglect and outright dismissal of the tragedy. Complete with graphics showing how the Mouse House Sports Network was trumped by standard news media.
I'm not calling for a boycott....but I am saying that the top sports media outlet in America just got bested by the BBC on a story that they needed to run front and center. What does that say about ESPN's dedication to sports other than their own pets?
Yahoo Sports is bigger and more widely read than ESPN.com for a reason: Yahoo Sports covers sports without a self-serving agenda. It's been a long time since I could confidently suggest the same for ESPN.
Vincent Lecavalier has a unique perspective to look at things from, regarding yesterday. Vinny played during the 2004-05 NHL lockout with AK Bars Kazaan in Russia and had quite the experience (chronicled by Tom Jones in March 2005 in the article "Rough Translation"). Thursday, Vinny made an appearance at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum and talked to St. Pete Times beat writer Damian Cristodero about flying charter while playing in Russia:
On Russian planes: That was the thing when we were over there was the planes. We all talked about it. They're older planes and that's all we talked about, the players kind of jokingly. Five or six years later there you go, a plane goes down. They've got to make sure your safety, all that stuff, is up to par and up to the level they should be, and I hope they do that.
Describing the planes: Just old. Everything, I don't know. I didn't feel safe in the air. I was happy to come back and fly in America. I didn't feel that the safety we talk about so much over here is the same over there. In the plane, though, it just looked old. It just didn't look right. It seems that things are done 80 percent of the way or 90 percent. It's not like here. It's sad.
I finally found some words yesterday evening, posted as a comment on the Raw Charge story about the subject:
I have absolutely no connection to Lokomotiv. The players, the city, the league. And yet, there is this enormous sadness that has been following me around today. This horrible sense of loss..
The thing is, I was upset when Derek Boogaard was reported dead. I was more immune to losing Rypien and Belak... But this one, it trumps everything and wipes away any ho-hum, it-happens sentiment.
I also am a bit pissed at myself as I know tragedies like this have occurred before, and I've shrugged it off. Soccer teams, non top-level clubs.... Planes crash too often, and yet, I write it off. Why? Because of lack of connection maybe?
And yet, I have no connection here, and yet I am mortified. I mourn. I want to do something and I believe I can't because of what country I am in, and where the tragedy happened.
Hug your loved ones extra long tonight, people. Say how much they mean to you. Share it with them. You can never do it enough. Because at any given moment, you may not be able to do it or say it or share it ever again.
The personal truth remains that I have no ties to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. I have no ties to the city, to the team, to the KHL... And yet I feel loss. I feel hurt and I feel sorrow. A tremendous sadness follows me around. It's one that's been growing and looming over the NHL this off-season in the face of the loss of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak. Hell, even the demise of the Atlanta Thrashers can be seen as another black mark following around the league - especially those who dismiss the fans hurt by the move.
But life moves on, and we move forward together as a group. We endure. Just as the sport will endure. We'll take comfort in the game when it resumes over the next several weeks, leading up to the start of the 2011-12 NHL season.
The only solace I can suggest or offer is that of the memories and heights and feats achieved by those lost over the course of the summer. Their passing pains us, but we reveled in who they were and what they contributed to our lives through this game and this sport we love.