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A year ago today the hockey world experienced a final blow in what had been a highly tragic summer, the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash. I am sure that many of you can remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when you heard the horrific news.  Personally, I was sitting in my Personal Selling class scrolling through twitter on my phone, when the news came across my feed.

In light of this tragic anniversary, I wanted to take a moment to remember not only the twenty six players who lost their lives in this plane crash, but also the four other members of the hockey family that we lost during 2011.

Tom Cavanagh, was a gifted hockey player who was a sixth round draft pick for the San Jose Sharks. After making 138th consecutive appearances for Harvard University, he made his AHL debut with the Worcester Sharks, and is their all-time scoring leader with 138 points in 202 games. Cavanagh played eighteen games in the NHL with the San Jose Sharks, scoring one goal and tallying two assists. At the age of 28, Cavanagh’s promising career came to an end when he took his own life at a Providence Rhode Island mall, as a result on an ongoing battle with schizophrenia.

The hockey community then lost another valued member when Derek Boogaard lost his life as a result of an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol.  Boogaard was known primarily for his size and his role as an enforcer. Drafted 202nd in the 2001 draft by the Minnesota Wild, he went on to play for the Wild for five seasons and appeared in twenty two games with the New York Rangers. Towards the end of his career Boogaard struggled with substance abuse and depression. After his death, it was found that Boogaard suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which results from multiple concussions.

At the age of 27, Rick Rypien ended his own life after a very long campaign with clinical depression. Undrafted out of juniors, Rypien played for the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and then moved on to play for the Vancouver Canucks.  While playing with the Canucks he was known as a solid fourth-line players with the ability to hit and fight. His ten year struggle with depression was well known by the team and contributed to two personal leaves of absence. Shortly before his death he signed to play with the newly formed Winnipeg Jets.

The final member of the hockey family that we lost was NHL Journeyman Wade Belak, who at the age of 35 died, as a result of accidental strangulation. Drafted 12th overall in the 1994 draft by the Quebec Nordiques, Belak was known for his over the top personality and his physicality. During his NHL career he was a member of the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers, and the Nashville Predators.  While his death was ruled accidental, Belak also admitted that he had been battling depression.

Finally on this date a year ago, twenty six players lost their lives while living their dreams and playing the game they loved. This tragic plane accident took the lives of the entire Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. Below is a list of the Lokomotiv members who were part of this accident.

Vitaly Anikeyenko, Mikhail Balandin, Gennady Churilov, Pavol Demitra, Robert Dietrich, Alexander Galimov, Marat Kalimulin, Alexander Kalyanin, Andrei Kiryukhin, Nikita Klyukin, Stefan Liv, Jan Marek, Sergei Ostapchuk, Karel Rach?nek, Ruslan Salei,     Maxim Shuvalov, K?rlis Skrasti?š, Pavel Snurnitsyn, Daniil Sobchenko, Ivan Tkachenko, Pavel Trakhanov, Yuri Urychev, Josef Vaší?ek, Alexander Vasyunov, Alexander Vyukhin, Artem Yarchuk.

So take this moment to remember these young, talented players that we lost last year. Also stop to remember that hockey players are mere men playing a child’s game which can elevate them to the status of hero, but in the end they are still simply humans.

I am a recent graduate of York College of Pennsylvania's Sport Management Program, with the desire to have a career in the hockey word.

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