Sunday, October 13, 2013

2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin "Lokomotiv" Jersey

On this date in 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, led by two of the most prominent Russian stars in the NHL, Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh and Alexander Ovechkin of Washington, combined in a joint effort to raise funds to benefit the families of the victims of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv disaster, the tragic plane crash on September 7, 2011 which claimed the lives of the entire Lokomotiv roster of 26 players and 11 members of the team's coaches staff as they were on their way to their opening game of the season.

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The idea for the effort originated with Malkin, as Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma recounted that Malkin doesn't ask for meetings with him and Penguins General Manager Ray Shero much, but "right away, he's like, "We wanted to do something" - not only for this game but for the families, for the team, for his loss, for the country's loss, for hockey's loss."

"We compete against each other hard on the ice, but off the ice we all are part of one big hockey family," Shero said. "Many of our players had friends on the Lokomotiv team. All of us in hockey were touched by this tragic loss. We just thought this game was a unique opportunity for our two teams to work together to raise money for the children and families of the players, coaches and staff who lost their lives."

The desire to do honor the victims and support their survivors led to both teams wearing a Lokomotiv patch for their first meeting of the season, with the jerseys then signed and auctioned off following the game.

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The end result of Malkin's desire to help the families of the victims - the wearing of the Lokomotiv patch during the game

Penguins owner Mario Lemieux was on hand to drop the puck for the ceremonial faceoff between fellow Russians Malkin and Ovechkin.

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Mario Lemieux presiding over the ceremonial opening faceoff

"It's kind of remembering the people who died. Trying to help in any way we can," said Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun. "This is not going to be fixed. It's impossible. But we can just try to make it a little bit easier for everybody involved."

Malkin related, "We're one big hockey family and we need help because of the crash in Russia."

Many of the players and staff of the Penguins and Capitals knew or had played with many members of not only the Lokomotiv team, but it's coaching staff as well, as several of them were NHL veterans themselves. While Yaroslavl was a Russian team, it's roster consisted of players from Belarus, the Czech Republic, Germany, Latvia, Slovakia, Sweden, Russia and Ukraine and the team staff originated from Belarus, Canada and Russia.

"Our hockey families have been touched and you see that response in a lot of different ways," said Bylsma.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said the cooperation between the two rival clubs shows what "brotherhood" in hockey is all about and "hopefully they raise a ton of money to help the families of everybody that's been affected by this. It's a terrible disaster and the one great thing about the hockey world is it's one big family when it comes down to it, whether is the Kontinental Hockey League or the NHL. Our guys can help their guys, and I think it's great."

"I think it's America showing respect, respecting the memories of the guys who were in the plane crash and for Russians, " Ovechkin said. "It means a lot. It's nice of both organizations and the NHL to do that."

During the game, James Neal opened the scoring at 12:27 with assists from Steve Sullivan and Malkin, who was playing his first game back after missing the two previous games due to soreness in his surgically repaired right knee.

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Malkin watches the puck evade Vokoun for Neal's opening goal

Mike Knuble tied it for Washington just 1:20 into the second, assisted by Russian Alexander Semin and Karl Alzner.

Ovechkin's first goal of the season a mere 40 seconds into the third period, from Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom put the Capitals back on top before Neal's second goal of the game, assisted again by Malkin as well as Chris Kunitz at 16:15 tied the game once again.  Neal was quoted after the game as saying "Geno was really flying tonight."

When regulation ended deadlocked at 2-2, the game moved to overtime, and with Jordan Staal of Pittsburgh in the penalty box for tripping Ovechkin, Capitals defenseman Dennis Wideman won the game for Washington with the lone assist going to Backstrom 44 seconds into the power play at 2:48.

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Ovechkin celebrating Wideman's (center) game winning goal with Green

Vokoun got the win in goal for Washington after making 39 saves on 41 shots, while Brent Johnson took the loss for the Penguins, recording just 16 saves on the 19 Capitals shots.

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The winning goaltender Vokoun

The final jersey auction results saw the Capitals captain Ovechkin's jersey going for the most at $5501, with the Penguins captain Sidney Crosby's jersey going for $4097 (despite his not playing in the game due to still recovering from the concussion he suffered in the 2011 Winter Classic against the Capitals ten months earlier) and Malkin's assistant captain's jersey next at $4020.

"The teams' tribute to the Yaroslavl hockey club is testament to the remarkable bonds shared by all members of the global hockey family," KHL President Alexander Medvedev said. "As we see tonight, great sports rivalries can be put aside when there is an opportunity to benefit those who are in need."

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Today's featured jersey is a 2011-12 Pittsburgh Penguins Evgeni Malkin "Lokomotiv" jersey, as worn during the Penguins game against the Washington Capitals on October 11, 2011. The players on both teams wore Lokomotiv patches for the contest, and idea which originated with Malkin.

"We were born in Russia. We know these guys," Malkin said. "We (played) with these guys on teams, the national team. We need to help their families because those are (our) guys." The Capitals were brought into the plan thanks to their Russian captain Ovechkin. "I know Alex. We talked to him," Malkin said. "We had ideas to sell jerseys Oct. 13 and do an auction."

Pittsburgh Penguins 2011-12 jersey photo PittsburghPenguins2011-12F.jpg
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Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 2011-12 Washington Capitals Alexander Ovechkin "Lokomotiv" jersey, as worn in the Capitals game against the Pittsburgh Penguins on October 11, 2011. Ovechkin's captain's jersey raised the most money in the charity auction following the game, selling for a high bid of $5501 with teammate and fellow Russian Semin reaching $3,124.

Washington Capitals 2011-12 jersey photo WashingtonCapitals2011-12F.jpg
Washington Capitals 2011-12 jersey photo WashingtonCapitals2011-12B.jpg
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Today's video section begins with the ceremonial puck drop by Lemieux as Russians Malkin and Ovechkin represented their respective clubs.

Next up are highlights from the game itself, as the Capitals prevailed in overtime.

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