'Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel' Revisits Hockey's Lokomotiv Plane Crash

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February 24th, 2014

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via press release:

REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL

REVISITS HOCKEY’S LOKOMOTIV PLANE CRASH

WHEN THE EMMY®-WINNING SHOW RETURNS TUESDAY, FEB. 25 ON HBO

 

REAL SPORTS WITH BRYANT GUMBEL continues its 20th season with more enterprising features and reporting when the show’s 203rd edition debuts TUESDAY, FEB. 25 at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT & 9:00 p.m. CT on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: Feb. 25 (2:20 a.m.) and 28 (11:00 a.m., 7:00 p.m.), and March 1 (midnight), 2 (8:00 a.m.), 5 (6:00 p.m., 3:00 a.m.), 10 (3:00 p.m.) and 15 (10:00 a.m.)

HBO2 playdates: Feb. 26 (1:00 p.m., 9:15 p.m.) and March 1 (12:45 p.m.), 6 (8:50 a.m., 5:45 p.m.), 9 (10:15 a.m.), 12 (12:20 a.m.) and 18 (1:00 a.m.)

HBO On Demand® availability: Feb. 26-March 17

Segments include:

            *Hockey’s Darkest Day. On Sept. 7, 2011, Russia’s Lokomotiv, one of the premier hockey teams in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), boarded a Soviet-era Yak-42 jet at a Yaroslavl airport to travel to a game in Minsk, the capital of Belarus. A few moments after lift-off, the chartered aircraft crashed about 500 yards from the runway, instantly killing 43 of the 45 passengers, including several NHL and Olympic Games veterans. The model of the aircraft carrying the team had a long history of problems and the charter company has one of the worst air safety records in the world. Now, two years after the worst aviation disaster in professional sports history, REAL SPORTS/Sports Illustrated revisits the families and officials who were interviewed in HBO’s original segment in 2012 and correspondent Bernard Goldberg learns more about the latest developments in the KHL’s aviation safety protocol.  New interviews include Bethann Salei, whose husband Ruslan Salei, a former NHL player, was killed in the 2011 crash and KHL vice president Ilya Kochevrin.

Producers: Nisreen Habbal, Josh Fine, Joe Perskie.

Excerpts:

HBO Bernard Goldberg voiceover: In 2012 the KHL invited the Saleis and other families of Yaroslavl for a memorial on the one-year anniversary of the crash.  And The League appears to be willing to confront its past. All teams halt play each year on September 7thand the new team in Yaroslavl holds a moment of silence before every game. And most importantly, there’s that new policy -- the one they announced after our first interview in 2012 -- that from then on the KHL would use only new, Western-built jets.

 

Just one problem: according to our reporting, they’re not.

 

We contacted players for 16 of the KHL’s 28 teams and found that half of those teams are still flying on banned planes -- some are even still using the very model that crashed in Yaroslavl.  There are pictures of some of those aircrafts… some sent to us by  KHL players who’d flown on them.

 

Goldberg: We went back to The League’s Vice President – Ilya Kochevrin – last week to ask about The League’s new air safety rules.  He was busy representing the KHL at the Sochi Olympics but we were able to catch up with him via satellite.

 

Goldberg:  As far as you know teams are abiding by the new rules and flying newer Western-made jet planes?  Do I have that right?

Kochevrin:  Yes.  Yes.

Goldberg:  Well, we here at Real Sports have been looking into this and what we've learned is that more than a few teams in your League are still flying Soviet-era jets and some of them are still using second-tier charter companies.  I’m wondering what you make of that?

Kochevrin:  I really need to double check all the data, because you know I’m not aware of this and I need to get this information before I can comment on it.

 

Goldberg voiceover: Our information comes not only from the players but from the charter companies that fly the planes -- one of those companies confirmed that it has flown a KHL team on a Yak airplane  on every road trip this season.

 

Goldberg: We've spoken to a number of players who say they're flat out frightened to get on these old planes.

Kochevrin: Okay.  Well, again, you know, I need to check it.  You know, I don't speak to the players who said that they were frightened.  So I probably need to speak to every player.

 

Goldberg:  You’re a deputy commissioner of The League, and I’m telling you things you don’t know.  Doesn’t that strike you as unsettling?

Kochevrin: It’s not a pleasant news.

 

Goldberg: You are concerned about this problem?  Is that what you're saying?

Kochevrin: Well, you know, I have to be concerned because, you know, as I said from the beginning  for us the most important thing is that nothing of that kind ever happens again.

 

 
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