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Islanders Bits: Picking up the pieces after KHL tragedy

Proud Slovakian father.
Proud Slovakian father.

The KHL tragedy has me still in a funk I'll need a few days, a few drinks and a lot of songs to break out of, but I don't intend for that to dominate the site mood here. Just thought yesterday should be left to thinking about all those lost in the Lokomotiv plane crash and the families they left behind.

My wife hadn't heard the news yesterday when we met after work. As I tried to explain fighting back obvious emotion, she asked, "Are you this upset just because it's hockey?" Then I spit out some of the names involved and why it struck home.

I watched Pavol Demitra grow up as a player and a man -- and I'll never forget his mix of exaltation and relief when he scored a goal. I saw Josef Vasicek win a Cup, then come to the Isles and win some of us over, then leave too soon. I remember Igor Korolev's awkward, rushed introduction to North American hockey, and how he never gave up. I watched Brad McCrimmon play a quietly key part on multiple successful teams across two decades. I didn't know any of them but ... well you know how sport is. How it brings people together. Puts a different lens on the human experience.

(I watched the 2010 Olympics in a dive bar where my buddies forced them to turn on Slovakia vs. Canada, and Demitra nearly single-handedly toppled the Canadians. I played pick-up with those same guys last night -- did I mention hockey brings us together?)

We'll have more non-somber content later today. The following links get on with a bit of Islanders training camp talk, as well as some tributes to some of the people the hockey family lost yesterday.

Islanders Training Camp

Josef Vasicek on Al Arbour Night

Video posted yesterday, from Al Arbour Night, when Josef Vasicek had one of his bigger games as an Islander. I'll never forget that smile.

Lokomitiv Season Promo Video

This one is hard to watch, given the fate of the players it features.

Tributes and Coverage

Kelly Chase was a Blues enforcer who was a teammate of both Demitra and Korolev. His thoughts on Twitter were typical of the day:

: All I can think about is my 3 former teammates wives and kids..what a aweful tough day

: My buddy Pav always took care of his tough guys and always had time for sick for Mia and his children

So many lives lost. So many kids without fathers, wives without spouses. We know this -- death -- happens every day. But it's something else when it happens on this scale, when it touches people across countries and time zones around the globe. I like to think it also brings us together, makes us appreciate each day, helps connect a strange species on a strange planet.

But I know at heart it's simply tragic, full stop.

*  *  *

(I turn to music in times like this. Therapeutic...never hurts.)

We come into this life in blood and tears
We leave this life in blood and tears
Paranoia deepest darkest fears
How beautiful the life -- yes

The highs and lows of every day
Laughter and tears won't go away
But the total experience of it all
Blows me away

Mother, lover, child or wife
Taken from us in this life
My grief is yours and yours is mine
But oh the gift of life is oh so fine -- yes

The highs and lows of every day
Laughter and tears won't go away
But the total experience of it all
Blows me away

~"Implosion," Killing Joke