Kukla's Korner

The Malik Report

‘Oh’

Update: Take note, Wings fans—the McCrimmon family makes its home in Metro Detroit. That means that the Wings, and those of us who live in Southeastern Michigan, are going to be the ones who rally around Mrs. McCrimmon and her son and daughter.

After dropping off my computer for further repairs this morning, I read the initial reports about the tragedy which befell a man who stood shoulder to shoulder with Mike Babcock in Lokomotiv Yaroslavl coach Brad McCrimmon, a tough defenseman and genuinely “sneaky funny” man who truly was just happy to be playing hockey for a living in Ruslan Salei, a Wings prospect who found fame, fortune and happiness in Stefan Liv and dozens of other special, truly good people who lost their lives today.

And I don’t know if this is the worst reaction one can have to knowing that on top of a summer of tragic and untimely passings, an entire team was lost, but this is what escaped my lips: “Oh.”

Not, “Oh, my God” when reading that Nicklas Lidstrom’s first defensive partner died, or, “Oh, how horrible” when I learned that my first extended interview subject, who told me not to worry about bothering him as it was his job, is gone.

“Oh.” As in, “Given the accident rates and high-profile deaths due to aviation accidents in the former Soviet Republics and Eastern Bloc states, given the number of deaths that occur because pilots push their aircraft so hard in such unforgiving conditions, and given the travel that KHL teams endeavor upon while flying airplanes that probably wouldn’t pass FAA inspections…it was a matter of time until something truly…so tragic and awful that we can’t put it into words, because people all over the world were friends of and either literal or figurative family with are, all at once, gone too soon…was going to happen.”

The news still coming from Yaroslavl is heartbreaking, gut-churning and unbelievably tragic. It was also going to happen, and that’s just as terrible to admit as the very small world that is our hockey family comes to grips with a tragedy too gigantic to comprehend.

My thoughts and prayers go out both to the families, friends, colleagues and peers of the players and coaches involved and to my fellow hockey fans as we are all grieving this tragedy together.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Comments

 1 2 >       Next »

Avatar

Malik, you seem like a nice guy but enough aready about your friggin laptop.  Just get the damn thing fixed or if you can’t then stop whining about it.

Posted by Eric on 09/07/11 at 07:15 PM ET

Avatar

George, you might like to know that the Ducks have already put up a memorial for Salei on their homepage. http://ducks.nhl.com .  He played for them for Anaheim for nine years. 

Their blog also gives homage to his memory and gives immediate reactions from former teammates like Selanne and Marchant.  http://ducks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=44118

Posted by Frosty on 09/07/11 at 07:24 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

Eric -whoever the hell you are - GO AWAY.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 09/07/11 at 07:31 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Just trying to frame the situation…my issues don’t matter here. I meant to suggest that this came out of the blue…and that this is truly most tragic because it was predictable.

I’m sorry if I offended. That was not my intent.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/11 at 07:35 PM ET

Red Winger's avatar

Go to the Red Wings website, and all you get are sales pitches for cheap tickets and the like. Nothing about the terrible loss to the hockey community.

Come on, Red Wings, you’re better than that.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 09/07/11 at 07:37 PM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

George, nothing about your post was offensive.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 09/07/11 at 07:40 PM ET

Twig's avatar

george, i don’t believe this was your intention, but to me the whole “oh” theme was a tad callus and made it seem like you “knew better” than those that died. just my opinion.

Posted by Twig from Houston, TX on 09/07/11 at 07:57 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

The Wings have made comments in the MSM and I’m sure they’ll put up a statement…

And the intent was to be a bit callous in that the, “Oh” reaction in itself isn’t appropriate. This is tragic and awful…the fact that it isn’t necessarily surprising scares the s*** out of me.

Nobody knew better…I don’t have any better words to describe the combination of horror, grief, shock and bizarre resignation I felt and I think the last part is what I’ve tried unsuccessfully to convey.

Again, no offense was intended. Just one person’s reaction to something too awful to wrap one’s head around

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/11 at 08:11 PM ET

Twig's avatar

no worries.

Posted by Twig from Houston, TX on 09/07/11 at 08:13 PM ET

Avatar

Interpreted the laptop bit as explanation for delay in commentary, not as solicitation of sympathy. People unfamiliar with authors should count to ten before assuming the worst.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/07/11 at 08:19 PM ET

Avatar

George, I find nothing at all offensive about your post.  Like you, I was struck numb by these reports.  I’ve said several times at various places on the web today that the hockey world is so small that almost everyone knows everyone else.  That makes it even more mind numbing when tragedies like this happen. 

When I started following open wheel racing, we killed our heroes.  Now with all the safety stuff racers have a pretty good chance of going through a long career without a serious injury

Hockey players beat the crap out of their heroes.  We do not expect them to die young and in the heart of their career.

It tears me up.  I did not know a single person on that plane.  Yet, I feel the loss of every one of them.

Doc

Posted by DocF from Reidsville, NC on 09/07/11 at 08:38 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

Posted by Red Winger from oft-injured shitsacks and half-evolved apes on 09/07/11 at 06:37 PM ET

They did post an article in their “News” section about an hour before you commented here.  I wish they would have put it on their main page.

http://redwings.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=587887

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 09/07/11 at 08:46 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

According to the Canadian Press’s report, here’s a reason why the Wings are proceeding with caution:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=375297

McCrimmon’s wife and two kids live in Northville, so the Wings will be the ones offering emotional support here. I’m guessing that the team is proceeding with caution and is asking the local media to do the same.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/11 at 09:03 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Updated the post. Mrs. McCrimmon and her son and daughter live here, so the Wings are going to be taking care of them…us, too.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/11 at 09:43 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

Eric -whoever the hell you are - GO AWAY.

Posted by MsRedWinger from Florida on 09/07/11 at 06:31 PM ET

AMEN!!!!!!

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 09/07/11 at 10:01 PM ET

MsRedWingFan's avatar

Interpreted the laptop bit as explanation for delay in commentary, not as solicitation of sympathy. People unfamiliar with authors should count to ten before assuming the worst.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/07/11 at 07:19 PM ET

Amen again !!!  .... My condolences to all the families & friends of those lost and to the entire Red Wings family, other Hockey players and also you George who covers the Red Wings so unselfishly through out the season.  What a tragedy   downer

Posted by MsRedWingFan from West Michigan hometown of Abdelkader on 09/07/11 at 10:06 PM ET

Avatar

i would like to echo Eric’s sentiment, word for word. Nothing offensive about George’s comments, however.

Posted by jmb on 09/07/11 at 10:18 PM ET

Avatar

Eternal rest grant onto them, and may perpetual light shine upon them.  May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, thru the mercy of god, rest in peace.

Posted by Thoughts and Prayers on 09/07/11 at 10:18 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

Don’t worry about comments directed at the author…this ain’t about me and I completely understand the frustration.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/07/11 at 10:29 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

My only beef with you George is you responding to the asshats who have obviously never had major computer issues.  smile

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/07/11 at 10:50 PM ET

Primis's avatar

George, your reaction was not much different than mine.  Or many reactions, I feel safe in guessing.

And I have the same feelings, that this was inevitable.

When I posted this news on Facebook, one of my friends immediately repeated a line he’d used for some time before this happened “I’d rather travel by catapult than Soviet-era civilian aviation”.  I realize there are Russian-based readers here but, my god, the whole country is one giant mess and it’s a wonder that these things don’t happen daily there.  Just think of some of the nuclear arsenal they’re sitting on, and some of the technology they still rely on daily that’s from say the 80’s, 70’s, or even 60’s… it boggles the mind.  I think the KHL’s been fortunate to only have the tragedies they’ve had to be honest, given the current state of the country and area there.

It’s still a bit foggy for me here, I don’t know what to think or feel, if anything.  I think I feel angry mostly that some people are so stupid as to let something like this happen to other human beings.  Yes it was an accident, but it certainly appears it was a preventable one had someone done their due dilligence of testing flight worthiness.


People like Eric, who come on to *troll* on a thread about a tragedy like this though, make me sick and ashamed to be the same species as them.

Posted by Primis on 09/07/11 at 11:42 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

That’s what I was trying to convey, Primis—whether we’re talking about the plane crash that took the Polish Prime Minister or this tragedy, the safety standards of much of the post-Soviet bloc’s civil aviation industry would make any seasoned Western traveler, never mind a Federal Aviation Administration inspector, reach for the emergency exit handle.

It’s just…I don’t have the words to explain how doubly tragic this was and is because it was probably preventable if even marginally competent maintenance practices and equally cautious pilots were involved.

The KHL is a league whose travel schedule makes the NHL’s air mileage look like it consists of puddle-jumping between Detroit and Chicago all year long, and given the levels of age and disrepair of every bit of infrastructure, this really was a matter of time.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/08/11 at 12:03 AM ET

Slumpy's avatar

I forget how big Russia is and the many miles they have to travel in severe weather.
The Russian government will probably try to cover up the exact cause of this out of embarassment for it’s lax regulations for it’s inner Russia plane trips.
What North American player or coach will want to go play in the KHL now? I know if I was one over there right now I wouldn’t be getting on any of their planes. Book me a long train ride to the next city, don’t care how long it takes.

Posted by Slumpy from Detroit on 09/08/11 at 12:18 AM ET

tkfergy's avatar

I had the same reaction…. I was not surprised it happened, but I will be praying for their loved ones.

Posted by tkfergy on 09/08/11 at 03:32 AM ET

WestWing's avatar

Much of what has been expressed here only echoes similar thoughts I’ve had in the hours since I first heard of this tragedy.  It’s hard not to take notice of the sad situation in the former Soviet states and conclude a certain inevitability to this terrible event.  For anyone with any awareness of the acute problems that continue to plague that part of the world, I can’t imagine there’s really even much debate about this.  I don’t think it’s in any way a matter of poor taste to point out that this could have been, and perhaps should have been prevented.  I think it’s just a very honest opinion.

Posted by WestWing from Portland, Oregon on 09/08/11 at 03:32 AM ET

Hawk's avatar

George, with all due respect and admiration for what you do for us Red Wings fans, please, don’t jump to conclusions about the reasons of the catastrophe, the state of Russian civil aviation in general and conditions of Soviet/Russian aircrafts particularly. Especially the crashed one.
The Yak-42 that crashed was built in 1993 and had approx. 6400 hours of flight experience which means that, despite the age, the plane was almost new. This plane was used to transport the astronauts, soccer and hockey teams, businessmen, pop divas, etc. It was also presented at International JetExpo 2010. Here’s the link to tech data (in Russian) of this plane: http://russianplanes.net/reginfo/1116

Primis, the whole world relies on technologies from 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. Just for starters, you still use email that didn’t dramatically change since 60’s, US banking systems still widely use the software programmed in COBOL in early 70’s, most of the US aircrafts in use are designed in 80’s… is there a need to continue the list?
Yes, we do have problems here in Russia. Just like any other country in the World. Yes, I admit that the catastrophe was preventable. Just like most of the catastrophes ever happened worldwide.
But it’s a kick in the groin when you make up the reasoning of the tragedy with less then 24 hours passed after it happened when the investigation is not even finished, accusing the whole country.
Right now, at this point, the reasons don’t really matter.

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 09/08/11 at 06:40 AM ET

AndrewFromAnnArbor's avatar

Well George, I give you massive props for having the guts to admit to that, because it was approximately the same as my reaction too, but I didn’t want to admit to it and be accused of being heartless.

In a league where a star player like Alexei Cherepanov could collapse on the bench, have no access to a defibrillator, be delayed getting to hospital, and be dead on arrival, and yet nobody or nothing be held accountable, something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.  Cherepanov is in his grave, while Jiri Fischer, who suffered much the same incident, is in Traverse City this week mentoring our young prospects, because the hard lessons of the past were learned.  I’m not saying the NHL is perfect, but it’s light-years ahead of the KHL in taking care of its players.  The KHL, on the other hand, sees itself as the NHL’s only rival, and has the arrogance to learn nothing from horrible tragedies like these and take steps to ensure they don’t happen again.  The same symptoms and problems are manifest in the wider world of Putin’s post-socialist CIS.  So yeah, it was more an “It finally happened” moment for me, rather than shock or grief.

In closing, I’ll borrow a line from late lamented SNL writer Michael O’Donoghue: Don’t be surprised when this happens again.  Be surprised it doesn’t happen more often.

Posted by AndrewFromAnnArbor from Fortress Europe on 09/08/11 at 06:46 AM ET

Avatar

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 09/08/11 at 05:40 AM ET

You’re right, Russia is like every other country, especially “the state of Russian civil aviation in general and conditions of Soviet/Russian aircrafts particularly”.

While it may be early to “jump to conclusions”, I hardly think “the reasons don’t matter”.  That the particular plane they were using was “almost new” might be irrelevant considering that its charter operator has had several of its planes, including the model that crashed in this case, banned from flying over Europe due to “major safety deficiencies affecting flight operations”. (http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/article/1050809—crash-the-latest-blemish-on-russia-s-safety-record)

When its not hard to find loads of sources that indicate Russia has an aviation safety problem, its at least as bad to suggest that Russia is “just like any other country in the world” in this regard. While the long-distance nature of airline travel for KHL teams or the age of the particular airframe in question might not have directly contributed to this incident, speculating along these lines isn’t exactly akin to “making up reasons”.

Anyways, wasn’t trying to pile-on, but being critical and being empathetic aren’t mutually exclusive. Our thoughts are with the victims families.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 09:52 AM ET

Avatar

To blame it all on Russia is no surprise after reading such derogatory comments toward the KHL management, called right on this blog KGB, how nothing has changed since the wall has fallen.  It’s pretty ridiculous to think that multimillionaires on one of the best KHL teams are riding on nothing better than school buses in the air.  I’m glad the dude in Moscow called you out on that and facts instead of innuendo.

I, too, had the reaction that it was bound to happen.  But I would never think that it was bound to happen ONLY in Russia.  It could have happened at Metro Airport (Detroit, where the shoe-bomber was nabbed, remember that?) or anywhere else in the world on any athletic team in the world.  Most NHL teams don’t ride on private jets like the Wings do.  It could have happened to a Canadian junior team for that matter. 

I guarantee you wouldn’t have blamed it on the U.S. or Canada.  To blame it on Russia is practically prejudice in my book.  Did you know that the flight to Belarus was only about 700 miles?  Less than Detroit to Dallas, Tampa, equal to Boston?  And you’re blaming cheap airliners and long flights?  Have you been on a nonprivate plane in the U.S. recently?  They’re all garbage.

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/08/11 at 11:53 AM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/08/11 at 10:53 AM ET

Totally agree…
My initial reaction was not ‘oh’,
Just…‘it was only a matter of time’.

It is not just hockey, or Russia.
With so many professional teams (all sports) flying, it is a wonder it doesn’t happen more often.

The majority of air disasters are a result of take-offs and landings.
My first reaction when the Wings upgraded red bird to avoid that extra stop for refueling was that they just doubled their odds of a mishap.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/08/11 at 12:23 PM ET

Hawk's avatar

dumbasrocks, I don’t say there’re no problems. But in this particular case lets just wait at least for the official results of the investigation and not speculate on the subject because there’s already enough horror just to lose the entire team of professional athletes - former, current and rising hockey stars.
Just in case - I never meant to offend anyone. It’s just too tough to understand what we’ve lost after the initial shock of just knowing out what have happened.

The funeral ceremony is scheduled on Sept.10

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 09/08/11 at 12:25 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/08/11 at 10:53 AM ET

You’re right, there’s an equal probability that a YAK Service aircraft go down vs. any other aircraft. 

http://www.iata.org/pressroom/pr/Pages/2007-04-16-01.aspx
http://en.rian.ru/infographics/20091124/156966767.html

Oh, wait.  Not only is there plenty of evidence that Russia has one of the worst aviation safety records, but there’s also evidence that YAK Service is the worst of the Russian carriers.

“I’m glad the dude in Moscow called you out on that and facts instead of innuendo.”

The “facts” he listed were that the aircraft that went down was not old. While airframe age might not explain this particular accident, it doesn’t speak to airline safety in general, and given the “fact” that YAK Service has an iffy safety record, age isn’t necessarily the biggest risk factor (ie. you can do terrible maintenance on new planes).

I don’t think Malik is out to demonize Russia as a whole (look he even likes their favorite font!), so can we drop that line? With the amount of player-exchange between the NHL and the KHL, it is worth looking at this issue critically, and not accusing people of prejudice for pointing out there are questions to be asked of Russia’s safety record in this area.

If all us ‘Mericans are totally off base, by all means show us why. In the mean time, we’re seeing a lot of articles and studies that paint an unpleasant picture.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 12:26 PM ET

Avatar

HTT,

“The majority of air disasters are a result of take-offs and landings.
My first reaction when the Wings upgraded red bird to avoid that extra stop for refueling was that they just doubled their odds of a mishap. “

Did you mean half their odds? Less stops for refueling = less take-offs/landings, no?

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 12:27 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 09/08/11 at 11:25 AM ET

I see your point, but try to understand that this is something that a lot of us didn’t necessarily know much about a few days ago, so background on the subject can be helpful. Again, don’t want to come across as badgering, just trying to learn more on the topic.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 12:30 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Did you mean half their odds? Less stops for refueling = less take-offs/landings, no?
Posted by dumbasrocks

I struggled with the phrasing of that.
What I meant is .. if their odds were previously 6,000 to one, they would now be 12,000 to one.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/08/11 at 12:32 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 09/08/11 at 11:32 AM ET

I never did like the Maths either.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 12:34 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I, too, had the reaction that it was bound to happen.  But I would never think that it was bound to happen ONLY in Russia.  It could have happened at Metro Airport (Detroit, where the shoe-bomber was nabbed, remember that?) or anywhere else in the world on any athletic team in the world.

It has happened at Metro before.

Remember Northwest Flight 255? Killed 156 people all because the pilots forgot to set the flaps on the correct take-off setting?

Russian aircraft, while they don’t look pretty, were built like tanks. Why? Because the designers knew the State wouldn’t have stringent requirements on maintenance like the US and Europe has. Sure they’ve had more than their fare share of of aircraft accidents, some related to ego, some related to pilot error, and yes, some related to poor design or poor maintenance practices and regulations.

But for you people to arm-chair this and simply blame the aircraft or the maintenance of said aircraft is asinine at best, even IF this charter airline was banned from operating in Europe. This particular Yak-42 was built in 1993, and while yes, poor maintenance on the airframe will prematurely age it, we’re now getting more reports out of Russia.

http://www.sovsport.ru/news/text-item/479438

Check out that animation if you care to…I haven’t translated the page, nor will I as I don’t have time, but huh…looks like a bad aircraft to me. Of course, why did the bird hit that tower on a sunny day? Pilot error? Could be. Why couldn’t the aircraft climb like they said it wasn’t? Not sure, maybe that could be some sort of issue with the engines or the flaps/flight control surfaces, but we won’t know until they issue a preliminary investigation report.

http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/1050242—plane-crash-claims-khl-club-the-team-is-gone

This is a long quote from the above source (sorry)-

According to a veteran air traffic controller at the facility, the plane appeared unable to gain its required takeoff speed on the runway and travelled several metres into the grass beyond before getting airborne, Russia’s LifeNews.ru reported.

“A second later it leaned onto its left side and crashed,” Ariy Novik said.

It was about 10 metres above the ground at the point of impact, Novik told the news agency. He said everyone in the air-traffic control room saw the last seconds of the catastrophe.

The jet was part of an aging Soviet-era fleet that was to have been taken out of service next year. It was carrying the team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the Belarus capital, for the team’s first game of the KHL season Thursday…

According to Vladimir Gerasimov, an expert with the country’s Professional Union of Civil Aviation Pilots, the plane likely made at least two lurching attempts to gain the sky along the airfield’s three kilometre runway, only taking off after hitting the grass at the strip’s end. The 36-metre long plane typically needs only a kilometre to get airborne.

Again, could be something wasn’t working on the flight, BUT, being that the pilot obviously couldn’t get the aircraft into the air on the first try, he could’ve shut it down and run it off the runway (worst case) if he couldn’t stop it in time.

My gut instinct (working in the airline industry throughout college and being an aviation nerd to boot) tells me regardless of what was working on the aircraft, the pilot, once realizing he wasn’t getting airborne when he should have, he should’ve locked the brakes, threw it into reverse thrust, and if all else fails, nose her into the grass. This screams of a massively over-loaded aircraft, or the ground crew gave the pilots one set of numbers (# of bags, equipment, and pax on board) and the pilots set up the aircraft to the wrong center of gravity and take off settings.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/08/11 at 12:41 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

To finish the thought-

All of the above pales to the fact that we’ve lost two RW alumni, a good prospect, and 30+ hockey players, coaches, and fanatics. To quickly place blame on the big bad Soviet/Russians? Come on…

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/08/11 at 12:45 PM ET

Avatar

Fluffy,

I doubt the stats on Russian airline safety, and YAK in particular, are based solely on mechanical/equipment failure. They’re based on accident.incident rates, which can and often do include a human factor. Nobody is out to get the Russians, its silly to accuse people of pointing at studies of higher aircraft incidents in Russia of prejudice. There’s a history of this, its worth mentioning it.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 12:53 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

I understand what you’re saying, and it’s easy to see why; Russian airline safety’s past is, colorful at best, but to quickly arm-chair this and place blame less than 24 hrs after the accident is useless. What I posted backs up my claim….AND can point towards poor maintenance. I understand that, but until we have an investigation, we won’t know squat. I’d go out right now and fly on a Yak-42.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/08/11 at 12:59 PM ET

 1 2 >       Next »

Add a Comment

Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.

Add your own avatar by joining Kukla's Korner, or logging in and uploading one in your member control panel.

Captchas bug you? Join KK or log in and you won't have to bother.

Smileys

Notify me of follow-up comments?

Feed

Most Recent Blog Posts

About The Malik Report

The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.