The tragedy of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash on Sept. 7 still weighs on the mind of Devils winger Ilya Kovalchuk.
He lost friends, former teammates and peers.
“That’s a tragedy. Very sad. You can’t really say much,” Kovalchuk said today at the Prudential Center in Newark.
“I was in Moscow. I was supposed to leave the next day and I changed plans. I went there (Yaroslavl) for the funeral. I think the whole country was down. But when I went to Yaroslavl you felt it most.”
Brad McCrimmon, Lokomotiv’s coach, was a coach in Atlanta when Kovalchuk was with the Thrashers.
“(Ruslan) Salei I played with during the lockout,” he said. “(Alexander) Vasyunov. I played with all the Russian guys on the national team. I knew the Czech guys.
“That’s life. It’s sad but these things happen.”
He said the crash won’t have a chilling effect on players who travel so often.
“The plane was good. They checked everything and said it was a pilot mistake, so it can happen anywhere,” Kovalchuk said.
This is a different training camp for Kovalchuk, who was the center of attention last year after the summer of his 15-year, $100 million contract.
“Everything is settled,” he said. “But I prepare myself the same, like I did last year. Myself, nothing has changed. I’m ready to go.”