KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in Deadly Plane Crash

September 7, 2011 will be remembered as one of the worst days in hockey history. An airplane carrying the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed just after takeoff from Tunoshna Airport, 11 miles southeast of Yaroslavl in central Russia. The team was on its way to Belarus, where they were set to begin their regular season against Dynamo Minsk.

The aircraft was an Yakovlev Yak-42, an outdated Soviet-era plane that was due to be phased out next year. In Russia the plane is known for its woeful air safety record, and just two months ago 44 people were killed when an Antonov-24 caught fire in midair before crashing in western Siberia. There have been eight fatal crashes in Russia just this year.

According to Slava Malamud of Sport Express, Kommersant, a Russian newspaper, reported Yak-Service, the airliner operating the plane, was ranked last by the European Air Safety Commission. The New York Times reported that the company, founded in 1993, was suspended for three months in 2009 by Russian authorities because of “major safety deficiencies.” The BBC reports that the aircraft broke into two pieces after hitting a radio mast before crashing into Volga river. The Times notes that eight Yak-42s have crashed over the years, killing 570.

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Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

“It’s tough, it’s fast, and you better be highly skilled,” says the Chicago pol bluntly. “Believe me, I’ve got my share of bruises and stitches over the years. There’s a brutal beauty to it.”

Rep. Quigley during last year's Warriors game.

You could be forgiven for thinking the not-quite-second term Democrat and former Cook County Commissioner was talking about politics– Chicago-style or otherwise. But he’s talking about his other hard-knocks passion: hockey.

Stocky and pugnacious, Rep. Quigley looks and talks like a guy who’s been around the rink a few million times. He should. “I’ve been playing since I was eight years old, skating around on old frozen lagoons,” he says. “Twenty degrees below zero, all of that. And I never stopped. I played every chance I could get.”

Quigley loves everything about hockey. Watching it: “Sitting at the old Chicago Stadium – 3rd row, 2nd box behind the blue line– man, that place just shook. Never shoulda torn it down.” Playing it: “My favorite play out there is setting up a bang-bang play, you know, a real good-looking goal.” Even tweaking his opponents about it: “When I was Cook County commissioner, I passed this resolution, right before the Winter Classic between Detroit and the Blackhawks. All the whereas’s and here-to-for’s … but if you read every red capitalized letter, it spells out “DETROIT SUCKS.” (We checked it out. He really did.)

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Alex Ovechkin Signs Six-Year Deal with Bauer

Ovi sports his new gear. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Bauer)

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

The world’s most famous hockey player has got some new gear. After dropping CCM over the summer, Alex Ovechkin unveiled a new six-year sponsorship with rival manufacturer Bauer, whose equipment Ovi used for the first three years of his career. This is Ovechkin’s second new sponsorship of the week after news of his long-term deal with superpower Nike for “lifestyle” and “performance” products surfaced on Thursday night.

“I think that CCM treat me well,” Ovechkin told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “They help me a lot and without that project I can’t score 65 goals. But in that kind of moment and that kind of situation right now, I feel that Bauer is company who I’m looking forward to work with. I played with this stick a couple years ago and I like it.”

The move doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. With Ovi’s ditching CCM — and therefore their parent company Reebok — that left Bauer as the only company with the cash to pickup a superstar endorsement.

The move was also teased on Bauer’s Web site over the holiday weekend, with their home page sporting a picture of skates with the Great Eight’s trademark yellow laces and the banner “This year will be different.”

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USA Warriors: “Hockey Was a Life-saver For Me”

Wounded warrior

Doug Johnson of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Retired Army Staff Sgt. Drew Hill doesn’t sound like a guy whose life needed saving. He’s confident and friendly, with that ingrained Army habit of calling you “Sir,” and he loves talking about hockey. “Chippy,” it turns out, is one of his favorite descriptions for just about everything.

The Warriors pose for a photo after a recent game.

We spoke recently just as he stepped off the ice after practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. He was tired — “Sorry about being winded, Sir,” he said — but eager to talk about his team of military pals who don skates as often as they can. Whether they have all their limbs or not. After all, they have a big game coming up.

Hill is a member of USA Warriors Ice Hockey, a project of USA Hockey and the NHL, that gets wounded American combat veterans out on the ice, playing hockey, no matter if they’ve ever played before or not.

Hill was one of those who had. “I played off and on through high school and up from there,” he told me. “But when I got into the Army I had to back it off a bit. Then I got hurt in Afghanistan in 2006; I picked it back up. Hockey was a life-saver for me.”

In fighting, Hill’s right ankle was essentially shattered and had to be completely rebuilt. “I’ve got titanium and all kinds of metal down there,” he said. His rehabilitation was long and, as they often are, difficult. “Physical therapy was great, but it just wasn’t aggressive enough. I was still walking with a cane. Well, I strapped on a pair of skates and started skating around, and the therapy I got from being on the ice basically got me working my right leg again.”

Hill’s story is a familiar one to anyone who plays with, or knows of , Warriors Ice Hockey. Composed of wounded vets from Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s part exercise, part amateur league, and part therapy. And this Thursday at 7pm, the puck will drop at Kettler on a big game — the Wounded Warriors vs. the Congressional hockey team.

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Alex Ovechkin’s April Fools’ Day Prank

Alex Ovechkin

Photo credit: Chris Gordon

We all know Alex Ovechkin loves to have fun, and now we have this fantastic new anecdote — thanks to Alex Ovetjkin — from former Caps netminder Semyon Varlamov who spoke to Artem Lisovsky of KP.RU.

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Video: John Carlson’s New Commercial for Force 3

Few things are as quintessentially American as government contractors — except of course for John Carlson.

Here, Captain America helps sell us on technology firm Force 3. All this is as part of a new ad campaign by the company, with other star athletes taking part. Wait, does Joey Chestnut count?

So what do you guys thing of Carlson’s acting debut, and how does it stack up to Ovi’s fantastic natural talent for the art?

S/T to a fan post on Japers’ Rink by bagace.

Photo credit: Elena Rusko, Russian Hockey Federation

Evgeny Kuznetsov was back on the ice this weekend. After successfully rehabbing from shoulder surgery, one of Russia’s most gifted young players was called up to the National Team to play in the annual Four Nations Tournament, which was held in Podolsk, about an hour outside of Moscow. Kuznetsov was also awarded the “C” on his jersey, as Blues’ top prospect Vladimir Tarasenko has graduated from the Under-20 team.

Evgeny Kuznetsov

Kuznetsov mixes it up with Finland's Micke-Max Asten (Photo credit: Elena Rusko, Russian Hockey Federation)

In the first game, Russia beat the Czech Republic, 2-1, and Kuznetsov didn’t total any points. He did, however, make his presence known throughout the game.

In game two, Russia smashed Finland, who sent their B squad on the ice, 11-4. Kuznetsov scored two goals and was named the team’s player of the game. Surprisingly, he also was also involved in a pushing and shoving match with Micke-Max Asten late in the game, which resulted in both players receiving double minors for roughing.

Kuznetsov’s goals are at 0:27 and 2:55 marks:

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A Timeline of Alex Ovechkin’s Summer

A photo essay.

The Capitals booting from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in early May once again got the summer off to a premature start for the boys in red and their fearless leader. After all, peak season hadn’t even begun on the Vineyard and the lakes remained chilly in the White Mountains. But we RMNB chose not to focus on these grave hardships. No, instead we’re going to fire up the Google Machine and take a look back at Ovi’s summer, which spanned a mere 121 days. Alexander embarked on many adventures including a little shirtless soccer (and what summer is complete without that), a scandal involving his midsection that had “gate” on the end for some ridiculous reason, and commercials for Canadian candy bars, which are like regular candy bars except Canadian.

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Will Politics Force USA Warriors Charity Game to Reschedule?

Craig Brownstein of PuckBuddys writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks.

Next Thursday evening, September 8, was going to find the PuckBuddys at Kettler (on assignment for RMNB!) covering the game between the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Team and the Lawmakers, made up of members of Congress and their staff.

We’ve been doing interviews this week with the Warriors’ coach and players, only to find out this morning that there may be a scheduling complication.

It seems nothing is easy in Washington anymore. The tiff between President Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner that pushed the President’s Joint Session address on jobs to Thursday evening may affect the charity game. We’ll stay in contact with the Warrior front office and share developments as soon as we learn more.

The Warriors are an amazing group of guys, and we look forward to sharing their remarkable stories. The congressional team? Meh. You know who we’re rooting for.