As the hockey world mourns for the members of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) team Yaroslavl Lokomotiv who lost their lives in Wednesday’s plane crash 250-kilometres north of Moscow, so does Deer Lake native and former NHLer Darren Langdon.
Two of Langdon’s former teammates — Alexander Karpovtsev and Josef Vasicek — were among the 43 who died when a charter jet crashed shortly after it took off on a flight that was to take the Yaroslavl team to Belarus, where it was to have played it season-opener against Minsk Dynamo.
Two people — including one player — are reported as having survived the crash.
“It’s sad to see the three before this and now a (whole) team of 43 people has died,” Langdon said referring to the deaths earlier this summer of NHLers Derek Boogard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak.
“It’s mind-boggling right now. They’ll be missed.”
Langdon says it’s been some time since he’s seen or talked to either Karpovtsev, with whom he played for three seasons on the New York Rangers (1995-1998), or Vasicek, a teammate of two-plus seasons with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Still, he remembers both of them as being “great people” and “good buddies.”
“He (Karpovtsev) was a good roomie, too. Even though I was a rookie, he let me control the remote control because he only knew a bit of English and it wasn’t the greatest.” - Darren Langdon of his friend Alexander Karpovtsev
“(Karpovtsev) was one of those people who enjoyed life and being in North America and playing in New York,” Langdon says.
In 1995-96. Langdon’s first-full big-league season, he and Karpovstsev were roommates on the road.
“He was a good roomie too,” said Langdon, who even in a time of sadness, can remember Karpovtsev with a smile.
“Even though I was a rookie, he let me control the remote control because he only knew a bit of English and it wasn’t the greatest.”
While he didn’t get to know Vasicek as well during their time in Carolina, Langdon says they “had some good times and a couple of pops (beers) with him over the two or three years I knew him.”
Over the course of his playing career, Langdon says he had a few somewhat unsettling experiences aboard charter flights, but never anything substantial.
“We had a couple of incidents where we had to touch the runway and take off again because it was too windy or we overshot the runway, but according to pilots, that’s normal if you’re travelling a lot.
“We always thought it was safe.”