Zetterberg Honors Fallen Friends
On the 7th day of September 2011, the hockey community was shaken by a terrible tragedy. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, a KHL team that finds its home in the city of Yaroslavl, Russia, was on its way to kick off the franchise’s 52nd season in Minsk, Belarus. Upon takeoff, the plane that was carrying 45 passengers – eight crew members, 26 players, and 11 team staff members – crashed due to pilot error. All but two were killed in the crash. The two survivors made it to the hospital, but one passed away a few days later. The sole survivor was the planes flight engineer.
Due to heavy Russian ties in the hockey community, the accident had an enormous effect on many NHL players. One player in particular is Henrik Zetterberg. Zetterberg was close friends and former teammates with three of the passengers that were lost in the crash.
Stefan Liv was a goaltender that had a short contract period with the Red Wings in 2006. Although he spent most of this time playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins, he still was able to spend some time with Zetterberg. He also was a goalie for the Swedish gold medal team at the 2006 Olympics, where they were also teammates.
Ruslan Salei, a defenseman, was teammates with Henrik on the Red Wings during the 2010-11 season. Salei had a long career in the NHL, playing for the Ducks, Panthers, Avalanche, and for his final NHL season, the Wings. He had signed a one-year contract with Yaroslavl, which brought him to the team for the fateful 2011-12 season.
Brad McCrimmon played in the NHL for many years. He got to know Zetterberg while he served as the assistant coach for the Red Wings. He signed a three-year contract with the Wings in 2008, and at the end of his contract, chose to take the head coaching position in Yaroslavl.
Zetterberg chose to commemorate his friends and teammates by creating a tribute stick. On the back of his Warrior Coverts, the numbers 1, 24, and the word BEAST are written. The 1 represents Stefan Liv, the 24 is for Ruslan Salei, and BEAST is the nickname that Zetterberg used for Brad McCrimmon.