The hockey world suffered one of its most painful tragedies in Russia six years ago today, when a plane carrying the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey club crashed, killing all passengers aboard the craft.
The Colorado Avalanche lost two members of its family on that day, as former defensemen Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins were among the victims. These two men would always be inextricably linked together, as both players had been traded for one another three years earlier. However, they now remain linked together for a more somber reason.
These men, like their teammates and coaches, deserve to be remembered for more than just how they died. They were more than just a list of victims who befell horrible tragedy. A tragedy shouldn’t define any one of these players, let alone each person who lived a life that was over way too soon.
The men aboard that plane were more than just hockey players and coaches. They were fathers, brothers, sons, and mentors. We cheered hard for them as they competed for our teams. Their families cheered as they saw the man they called ‘Dad’ or ‘Son’ skate up the ice, make that diving poke-check, or score that game-winning goal. Their families took pride as they saw someone who had worked tirelessly day after day, year after year, sacrificing birthdays, anniversaries, and school plays to live their childhood dream of playing the game they loved.
The sounds of their skates have been silenced, but their memories continue to live in the hearts of the fans who cheered for them, the communities who embraced them, and most importantly, the sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, and spouses who lost a part of their world on that fateful day in Russia.
These men played a game they loved and lost their lives pursuing their lifelong passion. Their dedication to the sport will always be remembered, and not a single life lost that day should ever be a life that is forgotten today, or in the future.
We at Burgundy Rainbow pay our respects to those men, and offer our continued condolences to their families.