Red Wings backup goalie Joey MacDonald was considering signing this summer with the KHL's Lokomotiv, the team that was all but wiped out in a plane crash on Wednesday.
MacDonald ultimately re-signed with Detroit and will play in Grand Rapids this season, but was prepared to make the jump to the KHL if things didn't work out here. Lokomotiv was one of the teams that showed interest.
"I talked to Rusty (Salei) and Beast (McCrimmon) over the (past) year about going over," MacDonald said. "I’m speechless. "It’s tough, especially with me talking to (Lokomotiv) in March. If I would’ve known (McCrimmon and Salei) were going over there, I probably would’ve signed with them"
Three people with Red Wings ties were killed in the crash: former assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, who was Lokomotiv's head coach, defenseman Ruslan Salei and goalie prospect Stefan Liv. In total 43 people perished, leaving just two survivors who are both in critical condition.
Questions have swirled around the cause of the crash, including concerns about older aircraft in Russia. The Yak-42 aircraft carrying the Lokomotiv team was built in 1993, but the design itself dates back to the mid-1970s. The Red Wings themselves just changed to a different plane, Redbird III (a McDonnell Douglas MD-81 that was built in 1981, Redbird II was about four years older). Former Wings goalie Manny Legace revealed many Russian players dislike flying, something that might stem from aviation standards in Russia:
"There are a lot of guys that hate flying. Amazingly, a lot of them are Russians," Legace said. "Iggy (Larionov) didn't like to fly. Pav (Datsyuk) doesn't like to fly. Sergei (Fedorov) didn't like to fly. It's weird. Maybe (it's their flying experiences in Russia)."
New Wings defenseman Mike Commodore said he wouldn't like flying on a plane that's 30-35 years old (which ironically is exactly what his new team's plane is). Legace would still consider the KHL, albeit a little more carefully now. MacDonald seems like his mind is made up and he won't be entertaining offers from Russia anytime soon:
"Probably not, because my wife is kind of freaked out about it, especially when it was one of the teams I had talked to," MacDonald said. "It would be a tough decision."