I’ve been trying to come up with the right words to explain what I’ve been feeling since hearing about the plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire roster of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv today. The problem I keep coming back to is that the ones I want to use are losing meaning.
When Derek Boogaard died earlier this year, I said, “Anytime something like this happens it’s a terrifying reminder of just how human our hockey heroes are. I’ve said it before, we think of them as invincible but they’re just men.”
I feel like this should have hit me when Vladimir Konstantinov was nearly killed in 1997 but it was too easy to chalk that up as a car accident, something that happens every day. Instead, it’s an idea that I first really realized when Chris Pronger collapsed after blocking a shot during the 1998 playoffs. It’s been reinforced with every death or major injury since, most notably Steve Yzerman‘s eye injury in 2004 and Jiri Fischer‘s 2005 collapse on the Detroit bench.
So it was easy to break out that line in May, an idea that’s always there but you never want to think about. But then in July you have Rick Rypien’s death, so soon after Boogaard’s. The words that came so easily don’t have the same meaning after so little time.
Two weeks later and Wade Belak is gone. Isolated incidents or an epidemic?nbsp; There’s almost panic in the feeling of “This is not supposed to happen.”
Three deaths in a single summer. It’s pretty much unprecedented. The idea of this being the worst offseason in NHL history is being thrown around.
And then an entire team is wiped out at once.
There are no words anymore because this is not how it’s supposed to be.
No, our hockey heroes are not invincible, they are just men. They are men in their prime, however, and it makes no sense for them to be cut down. There is no understanding it. We can only hope to come to terms with it.