Thursday, February 20th, 2014


NBC Olympics-Produced Documentary Debuts Saturday, Feb. 22 Within NBC’s Afternoon Olympic Coverage

“There’s winning championships, but there’s also rekindling a tradition.” –Lokomotiv Goaltender Curtis Sanford

 “Everybody thought hockey was done in Yaroslavl. I see the people and they come to you and say, ‘Thank you. You give us hope. You give us a light at the end of the tunnel.” — Lokomotiv Assistant Coach and Former Player Dmitri Yushkevich

STAMFORD, Conn. – Feb. 20, 2014 – NBC Olympics will present a special documentary – “Lokomotiv” – chronicling the tragedy surrounding the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club, as well as the rebuilding of the team, as the worldwide hockey community banded with the Russian city to revive one of hockey’s richest traditions. The special will air Saturday, Feb. 22 within NBC’s afternoon Olympic coverage.

The NBC Olympics-produced documentary, narrated by Liev Schreiber, examines the tragic events surrounding Sept. 7, 2011, when an airplane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), crashed outside the Russian city of Yaroslavl, killing 44 of 45 people on board, including 37 players, coaches and staff. Nearly 100,000 people attended a memorial service, including Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The roster and coaching staff included 11 hometown players, and the following nine former NHLers; Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, Alexander Vasunov, assistant coaches Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, and head coach Brad McCrimmon.

In addition, the team featured five Olympians from five different countries; Demitra (Slovakia), Salei (Belarus), Vasicek (Czech Republic), Skrastins (Latvia), and Stefan Liv (Sweden). Demitra, Salei, and Skrastins all served as captains of their respective teams at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010.

To see a preview of the documentary, click here:



Following the accident, the team was forced to cancel its participation in the 2011-12 KHL season, but played in the Russian Major League (VHL) with a team largely comprised of players from its junior squad. The organization was then faced with the prospect of rebuilding an entire team. It returned to the KHL for the 2012-13 season with head coach Tom Rowe, an NHL assistant coach and friend of McCrimmon.

Rowe on importance of hockey in Yaroslavl: “When I came here, they said to me, ‘In North America, you have your sports – football, baseball, hockey – in Russia, and especially in Yaroslavl, this is our life.’…it’s like coaching the Montreal Canadiens. That’s how passionate these people are.”

Rowe on expectations for Yaroslavl in 2012-13: “Obviously, you want to make the playoffs. But I think the more important piece is making sure that we have put the foundation back into place after the tragedy.”

Rowe was joined by Olympic gold medalist and NHL all-star Dmitri Yushkevich, who left his head coaching position with a different KHL team in order to serve as an assistant in Yaroslavl, and is currently serving as an assistant coach for the Russian men’s hockey team in Sochi.

Yushkevich on community of Yaroslavl and returning to coach team: “They were my dearest friends…I knew everybody. What I am doing now is most important in my life right now. For those guys who are not here with us anymore, for their families, for the fans of this club – I think it means a lot to rebuild this program.”


One of the most well-respected hometown players who perished was Ivan Tkachenko, who had played for Lokomotiv for the past 10 seasons. Tkachenko was a fan-favorite and known for his charity, although some of his most charitable acts only came to light after his passing.

Tkachenko was an anonymous donor to an organization that helped children in need of medical treatment, including Diana Ibragimova, who was diagnosed with leukemia at 14 and received more than $30,000 from Tkachenko to pay for a life-saving surgery.

Ibragimova on Tkachenko: “Ivan – he is a hero. Truly a hero, with a capital ‘H’…to help people, especially to do it so unselfishly that nobody would know, for a hockey player I watched so many times – he was such a great player. He was such a great man. He was a saint.”


Various players have joined Lokomotiv the past two seasons to help rebuild the team, including Vitaly Vishnevski, who was mentored by Ruslan Salei as a member of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks for more than eight seasons, and former NHL goaltender Curtis Sanford.

Defenseman Staffan Kronwall on fan response following Yaroslavl’s exit from the 2012-13 KHL playoffs: The fans are almost too good to us…we lost in the first round of the playoffs, got home around 2-3 a.m.…there probably was two or three-hundred fans standing there waiting for us – we thought, ‘Oh jeez, tomatoes and stuff are going to fly,’ but they actually wanted to shake our hands and thank us for the season.”

Sanford on the tradition of hockey in Yaroslavl: “Our expectations are broader than any other team in this league. There’s winning championships, but there’s also rekindling a tradition. There’s playing for your fans – fans that have lost so much.”

Vishnevski on returning to Lokomotiv: “I knew it was going to be a big responsibility. It’s not just hockey – it’s more than hockey.”

Yushkevich on the revival of hockey in Yaroslavl: “Everybody thought hockey was done in Yaroslavl. I see the people and they come to you and say, “Thank you. You give us hope. You give us a light at the end of the tunnel.”