- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2012

A year ago, Alex Ovechkin and Stan Galiev were on the ice in Arlington, Va., for some informal preseason workouts when they heard the news.

“I was just skating and my friend who was here with me from Russia, he said, ‘Lokomotiv got crashed,’” Ovechkin said. “So I stopped practicing and go to Internet and see what happened there. It was like yesterday. It was very hard moment.”

Friday marked a year to the day that a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team from Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League crashed, killing all the players and coaches on board. Only one crew member survived of the 45 people on the plane.

Of those killed, Ovechkin knew Alexander Galimov, who died five days after the tragic crash. Galiev knew three junior players: Yuri Urychev, Daniil Sobchenko and Sergei Ostapchuk.

“We just get shocked,” Galiev said of his reaction to the crash. “We found when we went on the ice and just couldn’t believe it.”

Ex-Washington Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun lost his best friend, Josef Vasicek, with whom he was talking on Skype the night before.

“It’s one of those things. It’s never going to be the same, and you just can’t change it,” he said last October. “For the first little while it’s hard to accept it. You have to deal with it. … I don’t think words can describe. I can’t even imagine what their families and loved ones go through.”

Even a year later, it’s hard for players to come to grips with what happened.

“Of course it’s hard memory; it’s very hard to remember,” Ovechkin said. “Of course the guys and all the team is going to be in our hearts. But right nothing you can do about it. You just have to think about them and pray.”

Lokomotiv has rebuilt and will compete in the KHL this season. Ex-Caps Viktor Kozlov and Sami Lepisto are among those who signed to play in Yaroslavl.

“They have a new team,” Galiev said, “and there’s going be like new life for the team.”