from Brett Popplewell of Sportsnet,
AT 4:05 IN THE AFTERNOON all but one of the Railway Men were sealed inside an aging plane, staring down an empty runway. In the cabin sat Lokomotiv, the gods of Yaroslavl whose names 600,000 people cheered and cried. Twenty-six hockey players and 11 coaches and staff embarking on a two-hour flight to their season opener in Minsk.
Directly behind the cockpit sat the coaches. There was Brad McCrimmon, the ‘Beast’ from Saskatchewan, one of the men on-board with his name on the Stanley Cup. Still driven by ambition at the age of 52, he had recently left his home in Detroit and crossed the Atlantic to coach this team. And beside him sat his assistant, Igor Korolev, the former Maple Leaf who played for five teams in a 12-year NHL career, back in his homeland but far from his family in Toronto on this, the day after his 41st birthday. Beside him sat his old friend Alexander Karpovtsev, the former Ranger who’d stood by Korolev’s side on his wedding day in Moscow 21 years ago. He was the second man aboard this plane with his name on hockey’s most revered chalice.
Behind the coaches sat the players. Young and old, from the former all-star to the struggling prospect, together they formed one of the strongest teams in the second-best league in the world.