One year ago as of yesterday a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team crashed and killed 44 out of the 45 passengers that were on board. Among those passengers were multiple former NHL players including 3 former Red Wings. Brad McCrimmon, Stefan Liv and Ruslan Salei all lost their lives that day. Today we remember them and look back at the great careers they all had.
I remember coming home from school last year to the shocking news that a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team had crashed. Initially, there was no confirmation of who had died but as the minutes kept ticking away names of the fallen players started to surface. I was beyond shocked when I learned that Ruslan Salei, a player who had just months earlier been playing with the Red Wings in the playoffs, had passed away.
Ruslan Salei was the 9th overall pick in the 1996 NHL entry draft where he was selected by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. From the 1997–98 season to the 2005–06 season Salei appeared in 594 regular season games for the Ducks. After leaving the Ducks, Ruslan played for the Florida Panthers and Colorado Avalanche before joining the Detroit Red Wings during the 2011-12 season. Salei’s role with the team was to push Jakub Kindl for the 6th spot in the lineup. Salei ultimately won and appeared in 75 games for the Wings and scored 10 goals. Losing a player that so recently played for the Wings is extremely hard.
However, Salei wasn’t the only player to work with the Wings last season. Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL defenseman who played 3 season with the Red Wings back in the early 90’s, was one of the Red Wings assistant coaches last season. McCrimmon was highly respected by the Red Wings organization and last year decided to leave in order to pursue his head coaching career. The “Beast” will be remember also as one of Nick Lidströms early influences for when he first came to Detroit.
Stefan Liv was drafted by the Red Wings 102nd overall in the 2000 entry-draft. Liv, who was a goalie, played one season with the Grand Rapids Griffins before signing a 3-year contract with the Swedish club, HV71. In Sweden, Liv was a fan favorite and the sadness could no doubt be felt among Swedish hockey fans. His jersey will be retired and will hang in the rafters of Kinnarps Arena in Göteborg.
As we look back at the crash it gets no easier, however, we will always remember those who have died for their contributions on and off the ice.