KHL plane crash victims: "Our thoughts and prayers are with their families." - Lightning C Dominic Moore
The tragedy in Russia, in which the plane carrying the KHL team Yaroslavl Lokomotiv crashed, killing a reported 43 of the 45 people aboard, was a jolt to those on the Lightning who knew some of the victims.
General manager Steve Yzerman and director of pro scouting Pat Verbeek were close with Lokomotiv coach and former teammate Brad McCrimmon. Center Dominic Moore was a teammate of Pavol Demitra with the Wild. Defenseman Brett Clark was a teammate of Ruslan Salei with the Avalanche.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with their families," Moore said.
It has been an emotional summer for the NHL, which already has seen three deaths of enforcers who played in the league last season: Derek Boogaard (an accidental overdose of pain medication), Rick Rypien (cause not released) and Wade Belak (an apparent suicide). In addition to McCrimmon, Demitra and Salei, former NHLers Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Alexander Vasyunov, Igor Koralev, Alexander Karpovtsev and Karlis Skrastins also died in the plane crash, the NHL reported.
"We all come across situations that cause you to pause and reflect and keep things in perspective and appreciate what we have," Yzerman said. "But you go on with your life and appreciate the things you have and the people around you. It does make you stop and think, for sure, but you continue on."
Yzerman played with McCrimmon from 1990-93 with the Red Wings and worked with him from 2008-10 when Yzerman was a Detroit vice president and McCrimmon was a Red Wings assistant. Verbeek was a teammate of McCrimmon's from 1993-95 with the old Whalers, and also worked with McCrimmon in the Red Wings organization with which Verbeek was a pro scout. He called his old buddy "a great guy."
"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."
"He was probably 6 feet, 195 pounds," Yzerman said. "He was a steady player. He moved the puck. He didn’t do anything flashy. He didn’t beat people up. He wasn’t a big open-ice hitter. He just was an all-around player. He did everything well but he didn’t particularly stand out. I don’t know if people realizes how good of a defnseman he was."
Verbeek said he and McCrimmon, who would have an 18-year career, would drive together to home games. The two farm boys also sat in the back of the bus and talked politics. In fact, Verbeek said McCrimmon might have been more passionate about politics than hockey.
"He was one guy that really got me thinking about things," Verbeek said. "I've never forgotten, we used to sit in the back of the bus and talk about all those things. He was a real conservative. He just believed in the whole free market process and the less government the better off you were as an individual.
"He was a unique individual," Verbeek added. "I'm going to miss the guy."
Moore played with Demitra for parts of the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons with the Wild. Clark was Salei's teammate from 2008-10 with the Avalanche.
"We hadn't stayed close or anything like that," Moore said, "But I always found him to be a very personable and nice person. He was mild mannered and just generally a good guy."
Lightning director of amateur scouting Al Murray said no Lightning prospects played for Lokomotiv.