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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.

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I’d go out right now and fly on a Yak-42.

Maybe just don’t fly YAK Services…

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/08/11 at 02:02 PM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Heh…yeeeah…that and all Yaks are grounded.  confused

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 09/08/11 at 02:04 PM ET


Hey George,

You might want to contact Det CC on Wixom Rd as Liam McCrimmon goes there (it has been widely reported so I don’t feel bad about disclosing that or that his sister goes to Wayne State). There was preliminary talk about holding a funeral mass at/with CC’s coordination. When I went there they had a classmate’s mother die and did something similar. I am not sure it will be a public funeral but I suspect that it will be well attended.

FYI They pulled Liam out of class and had a priest inform him about his father yesterday.

Posted by dca from away from Alexandria VA on 09/08/11 at 02:08 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I’m gathering that CC will close ranks around Liam and take care of him.

And I want to make things very clear here: I’m not trying to blame the KHL for this accident, nor am I suggesting that this is a problem that would “only happen in Russia.” I’m suggesting that human error and the plain old odds of an incredible amount of air travel and practices that are a little more “duct tape can fix it”-oriented than those of other aviation industries’ regulators might have combined with fatal results.

That’s not an attempt to blame one entity and write off the loss of 40-plus people as, “Sh** happens”—it’s an attempt to suggest that reforms are necessary…and that the fact that this tragedy didn’t necessarily surprise some of us is scary. Such an observation is not meant to take anything away from this horrific crash.

In what is supposed to be the most highly-regulated and best-maintained civilian aviation fleet in the world, about twenty-four years ago, a tired pilot forgot to set the flaps properly for takeoff and 150-something people lost their lives after Flight 255 struggled to gain altitude, clipped a light pole (just like this flight) and crash landed in a freeway underpass. I grew up seven miles directly north of the airport and heard the blast, knew people whose yards were littered with parts of the plane and, thanks to the better judgment of my father, was prevented from seeing the utter horror that unfolded at the crash scene.

This can happen anywhere and it’s usually “human error,” but that doesn’t make the call for investigations to determine what can be prevented next time, especially in an industry—a worldwide sports industry—where professional athletes fly from destination to destination.

That’s what I’m worried about. Yell at me all you want, I can take it. I’m just sharing my observations and reflections, and I understand that they are somewhat controversial, and that in the end, they don’t do a thing to help quantify the tragedy which took place or the awful news that’s going to leave the hockey world and hockey fans in grief for a long time.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/08/11 at 02:42 PM ET

Primis's avatar

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

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

Hawk, the Yak-42 was considered not flight-worthy by the EAC some years ago (I believe back in 2008?).  1993 or 2011, if it isn’t flight-worthy or up to standards, it’s garbage and should not be in the air.  Spin it however you like, but they’re flying unsafe craft and it’s a miracle more of this doesn’t happen over there,.

I believe this may be the last straw for the concept of the KHL as a true viable alternative for NHL-caliber players.  Go there and you might die on the ice, you might die in a plane crash, you might get attacked by the Russian mob, you might never get paid… all these are experiences players have had over there.  It’s clearly not a safe place for anyone with other means…

Posted by Primis on 09/09/11 at 10:37 AM ET


Hawk, the Yak-42 was considered not flight-worthy by the EAC some years ago (I believe back in 2008?).

Actually, it was a ban on several models flown by YAK Services, including the Y-42.  Wasn’t a ban on all 42s, just those operated by that charter. From what I understand.


Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/09/11 at 10:48 AM ET

alukacs's avatar

George can write moving end-of season thank you posts to the Red Wings, yet when the hockey family loses promising youth, established players, coaches and management, his best effort is a slightly concealed KHL bashing…

After a tragic event like this, or thoughts should be with the families of the victims and survivors. We should hope that the aviation workers, first responders, firefighters, policemen, volunteers, etc. find peace and the strength to move forward. Accidents do happen. We had a recent aviation accident in Canada. It was a 737… What the families and the community needed (and still need) was support, solidarity and a helping hand.

Armchair philosophy from people knowing nothing about aviation or Russia is not productive. I find it interesting that Red Wings fans - including George - are up and arms about out-of-town writers bashing Detroit or the state of Michigan (last case I remember was the Edmonton Sun article), yet when they have the opportunity, they are willing and able to behave in exactly the same way. Parroting “KHL is no alternative to the NHL”, “petro-dollars” or the likes that Primis wrote above during times like this is no help for those who are affected.

Posted by alukacs on 09/09/11 at 12:48 PM ET


I find it interesting that Red Wings fans - including George - are up and arms about out-of-town writers bashing Detroit or the state of Michigan (last case I remember was the Edmonton Sun article), yet when they have the opportunity, they are willing and able to behave in exactly the same way.

I think that has more to do with those articles taking cheap shots, using the plight of Detroit as a punch line, and generally not shedding any new light on those problems or solutions.  I don’t think that’s what Malik did here.  I think its safe to say that George’s audience is much less familiar with Russian aviation, so background is justified.  From the outside, his reaction seems based on a knowledge of the problems with Russian aviation, hence the lack of shock on his part.  If George is bashing anyone, its them, not the KHL. 

P.S. George had infinitely more words of sympathy and condolence for those affected by this than the face of the NHL did during his presser that same day.

Posted by dumbasrocks on 09/09/11 at 12:59 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

After a tragic event like this, or thoughts should be with the families of the victims and survivors.

1. You don’t get to tell people where their thoughts should be.

2. Just because somebody comments on something doesn’t mean that they’re not thinking about something else.

I’ll level with you; I did not have a pragmatic reaction to hearing about the tragedy. It did not immediately cross my mind that this was an eventuality like it did with George, Gramps, or Andrew. I’ve actually been working through the traditional stages of grief (in order, no less) since I first heard about this.

We’re different people. We don’t always agree on things, but I’m not worried about who has had the “best possible” outward reaction to the tragedy. People just process things differently.

While I don’t want to be accused of speaking for anybody who has taken part in this discussion, it’s entirely possible that discussing the state of aviation and specifically the state of Russian aviation is a way of coping.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/09/11 at 01:11 PM ET

Behind_Enemy_Lines's avatar

Prayers and love to all of those lost in this horrible tragedy and their families.

Abooot what is being said above me:
People get really butt hurt about words now days. The pussification of America has spread to the rest of the world and now everyone acts like a bunch of little girls at a tea party. People have the right to speak their minds, if you don’t like what they have to say…. too bad. Whining about intent and prejudice makes you look like a weak fool IMO. Once again most people would agree that you should never speak your mind if it could possibly offend another person, well f that. Being offended is like crying, it’s for little girls, the craven, and the weak. (Unless it’s somehow related to the Wings; or a family member passes on. ;P) sARCASM fONT pLEASE.

Posted by Behind_Enemy_Lines from Evanston,IL on 09/09/11 at 02:59 PM ET


   [prej-uh-dis] Show IPA noun, verb, -diced, -dic·ing.

an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason.

any preconceived opinion or feeling, either favorable or unfavorable.

unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding a racial, religious, or national group.

Seems like an apt description of the above to me. But I have no problem with him expressing his opinion or his right to do so.  Just like I can agree with you that no one has the right to tell anyone else how they should feel.  I just have the same right to disagree with your opinion and George’s and call him (and some of you) on it. 

This isn’t the first instance of Russian-bashing or KHL-bashing on this board, as was pointed out.  Not even close.  How can you bash Russians when we get to watch the best of them all currently and we got to enjoy the best 5 Russians together of all time in the NHL?  We should adore Russians around here.  I do.  Fedorov included.

Posted by jkm2011 on 09/09/11 at 11:28 PM ET


I’m not sure I get your reaction George.
My reaction, when I saw a post on facebook that a Russian Red Wing had died, was, No Way. I immediately thought it was Datsyuk.
For a brief second, I saw it was a KHL plan and breathed a sigh of relief.
And then it hit me. A while team…
And then I saw the names.
All these guys… Salei. McRimmon, Rachunek, Vasicek .. All these guys are dead?
What a tragedy. What a sad day for a lot of families and for the hockey community.

You’re reaction is kind of heartless, George — which really isn’t like you.
Because, given accident rates, it’s only a matter of time before this happens to an NHL team.
And I sure as hell hope that if Red Wing One crashed, you’d have something better to say than, “Oh… it was just a matter of time.”

Or, that if you didn’t have anything better to say, then you’d just choose to say nothing instead.

Posted by captain bob on 09/10/11 at 05:14 AM ET


Hey George,
I think if your only reaction was “Oh .... this was just a matter of time,” then you probably should have kept it to yourself. Usually, you’re a pretty sensitive guy. So I’m kind of surprised that when a team full of hockey players is removed from our midst, that you’d post something this callous.

Sure, Russian aviation has it’s problems. Statistically, it was more likely to happen in Russia first. But statistically, it will happen here eventually.

I sure as hell hope that when it does, you’ve got got something better than “Oh ... this was just a matter of time.”

If this happened to Red Wing One, I know for a fact that you’d show a little human compassion. And if you couldn’t, I’d hope you’d just choose to stay silent.

Posted by Captain Bob on 09/10/11 at 04:55 PM ET


Personally,  I think both sides are going a little overboard. Maybe he should apologize for the initial reaction (although you could argue he’s been doing this in the later responses, even later in the original entry). However, maybe I’m not around here enough or callous, but as a minority, I’ll take my chances and say that people saying George is callous or prejudiced and keep piling it on may have to look in the mirror. We get it, you disagree with him and what he did. To keep piling on makes you look no better than him, maybe smaller, like you have something personal against him. To say he/we don’t like Russians as one blanket statement? Please. That’s the last thing I would think, it seems like it’s the opposite reaction, that we can never criticize anything Russian ever again. Can’t someone love and admire Russian things and yet allow some criticism? I’m not excusing George, I think though there’s some piling on here, and the man I think deserves a bit more slack than the recent comments are showing.

Posted by bugsy on 09/10/11 at 10:51 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I grew up seven miles north of Metro Airport, off of Middlebelt Road, below the main takeoff run, and I know how impossibly important the people in those aluminum tubes that seem like they’re more miracle than physics really are…

Because I remember hearing the thunderous roar when a pilot’s simple error in not setting his wing flaps down during a thunderstorm yielded Flight 255 crashing and killing 156 people all of seven miles from where I grew up. I heard it, I knew people who had parts of the plane land in their swimming pools and people who were stupid enough to get close enough to smell the plane and people burn.

I took that into account while writing the entry, and I do not take the passings nor the horrific nature thereof lightly. I just wrote my initial reaction and went from there, and if I was healthier I’d have already revisited it with the above-listed points as a second take.

People died here. The fact that it doesn’t surprise you per se doesn’t mean that you don’t give a damn. I’m not that callous and I’m not unaware of the fact that as his kids live here, Brad McCrimmon will probably be buried right here in Southeastern Michigan.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/11/11 at 12:56 AM ET


George, by the way, I’m not going to ask for my money back either…. and I still think a fundraiser for new sinuses will be more worthwhile than the suggestion for a backup computer. Get well, soon.

Posted by bugsy on 09/11/11 at 04:39 AM ET

Hawk's avatar

Galimov died :(

Posted by Hawk from Moscow, Russia on 09/12/11 at 05:21 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Oh Jesus, that’s awful :(

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 09/12/11 at 07:26 AM ET

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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.