Alex Ovechkin carries his history with him every time he hits the ice. Literally. His jersey number from the KHL is written on his shoulder pads, his late brother’s name is stitched into his gloves, and he continues to wear a patch commemorating Lokomotiv Yaroslavl on his chest protector.
Today is the seventh anniversary of that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash, which claimed the lives of 43 members of the KHL team. Ovechkin has worn the Lokomotiv patch at least since 2014.
CBC revealed that Ovechkin was still wearing the same chest protector and patch during the Capitals’ championship run.
The Capitals’ opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals also had memories of Lokomotiv at the forefront of their thoughts. The Golden Knights’ assistant GM, Kelly McCrimmon, lost a brother in the crash: Brad McCrimmon was head coach of the Yaroslavl team and was on the flight that day.
Kelly spoke to the Toronto Sun’s Steve Simmons about the tragedy and losing his brother.
“Maureen (Brad’s wife) and I headed to Russia to do all the things you had to do,” Kelly said. “The devastation, I don’t think I’ll forget that. You had to go over and identify the body. You don’t expect to be around a tragedy of this magnitude. We’re in Russia, we don’t speak the language, we don’t know what’s going on, and we’re trying to make sense of everything, and you see everything around you. It’s the saddest thing ever.”
“It isn’t something you ever really get over,” he added.
The summer of the crash was a hard one for Ovechkin, and he spoke about the impact that hardship had on him in an interview with the Globe and Mail in 2011.
“I lost a lot of friends this summer,” Ovechkin said quietly. “I had a lot of situations this summer. This … this was just one of them. Anything can happen in this world. It just happens that those were friends, who do the same job I do. It’s a huge tragedy and loss but … you never know when and you never know how.”
Friday, Dmitry Orlov and Ovechkin have already posted remembrances of Lokomotiv on their Instagrams, as have numerous other players and teams across the world.
Orlov posted the team’s logo and the date of the tragedy on his Instagram Story.
Ovechkin posted a photo on Instagram with three praying hands emoji and the text “Remember.”
Tragedies shape us, both as individuals and as a community. Conversations about the Capitals these days understandably focus on the next chapter waiting to be written for the franchise and its captain. It’s still important–especially today–to honor and remember even the hardest parts of the story of what came before.
Headline image: CBC
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