Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

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Khokhlachev mourns loss of friends in KHL crash

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
WILMINGTON The Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash has brutally affected people all across the hockey world, and unfortunately the young and talented Bruins prospects at rookie training camp are no different.

Bs 2011 second round pick Alexander Khokhlachev grew up in the Russian capital city of Moscow and has watched all of the news and reports out of his home country with wide-eyed horror over the last week while working out in North America for his first NHL training camp.

Its been very difficult for Khokhlachev being so far away from home when tragedy struck at the heart of his mother country, and things hit very close to Kokos heart when the crash took the lives of a pair of his friends the talented center grew up playing with.

Khokhlachev played for a pair of junior Russian National teams with 18-year-old Maxim Shuvalov and also knew 21-year-old Sergei Ostapchuk, who had played a pair of seasons in the Quebec Major Junior League before joining on with Lokomotiv in the KHL. Both young men were lost before the prime of their lives when the Yak-42 plane ripped apart in Yaroslavl.

Khokhlachev mourns the loss of both comrades.

I went to one school with Ostapchuk. This is just terrible. It was the first Lokomotiv road trip of the year, so they brought some of the young guys that I knew. Just really terrible news, said Khokhlachev. There were a couple of young guys there. It was shock first thing when you heard and then you just felt really bad for all of those guys. Its a really bad time. I dont even know how to explain it.

The crash came at the end of a challenging summer for Khokhlachev, who scored 30 goals with the Windsor Spitfires last season while learning English and mastering the North American game before heading home to Moscow for a couple of weeks.

Then Khokhlachev headed to Toronto for the NHL rookie combine, hit Minnesota for the NHL draft and then flew to Boston for a prospect camp that he wasnt quite physically prepared for after the Bs tapped him in the second round.

Once the Bs prospect camp was over Khokhlachev went right back to Ontario to begin working out in Windsor with some new instructions and training tips from the Bs training staff.

The whirlwind summer appeared to be winding up on a high note with Bs training camp on the horizon and Khokhlachev celebrating his 18th birthday on the first day of rookie camp. But that was all cast in a different light when he saw the Russian plane go down immediately after take-off, cutting down the lives of so many good hockey people.

It was really tough when you dont know everything thats going on, said Khokhlachev. Ive been reading the news every day and checking on things. I think theyre going to find out in the next couple of days what actually happened with the plane. So we just wait for now.

Khokhlachev knows that it will be important to impress when he plays in the two rookie games against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum over the next two evenings, but the Russian scorer will be doing so with a bit of a heavy heart.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction. 

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Monday, Jan. 23: Yandle endorses Coyotes

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while sorting through all the Bruins-related alternative facts out there.

*Matthew Tkachuk is having some disagreements with his parents about his mouth-guard usage with the Calgary Flames.

*Former Yotes D-man Keith Yandle says that the Arizona Coyotes “know what they’re doing” despite their decent to the cellar in the Western Conference.

*Insights on every goaltending situation in the NHL from the crack ESPN.com staff breaking down the fantasy rankings.

*The struggles continue for the Tampa Bay Lightning as they can’t seem to gain any traction in the Atlantic Division.

*Wayne Simmonds took the blame for a late penalty that led to Philly’s undoing as they battle for playoff position in the East.

*Sounds like Patrik Laine might be nearing a return to the lineup, and that’s a very good thing for the Winnipeg Jets.

*For something completely different: We have a title for the next Star Wars film. It’s going to be called “The Last Jedi.”