Kovalchuk Reflects On Lokomotiv Tragedy, Sets Sights On Playoffs

Via Richard Chere of The Star Ledger

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.”

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