Danis 'would go back' to KHL

DEREK VAN DIEST, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:37 PM ET

EDMONTON - Yann Danis knows what it’s like to travel across Russia as a member of a Kontinental Hockey League team.

The goaltender spent last season with Amur Khabarovsk before signing with the Edmonton Oilers this year.

So, the news of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash on Wednesday hit close to home.

“Shock was my first reaction. Something like that, it’s a tragedy,” said Danis. “Having played there in Russia, I didn’t know anyone on that team, but I knew the city and I know the type of plane they were flying on, we flew on the same type of plane.”

A native of Lafontaine, Que., Danis, 30, went to Russia in order to work his way back to the NHL.

Undrafted, Danis spent six years in the Montreal Canadiens system before moving on to play briefly with the New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.

“I would go back,” he said. “I had a decent experience. I went in with the worst expectations, but it turned out fine. You have to adapt, but it was fine, I would go back.”

Danis signed a one-year deal with the Oilers this off-season. He is expected to play with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City this year, providing depth and insurance behind Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk.

Danis is currently skating with a number of Oilers veterans at a south side arena preparing for the upcoming season.

“Things are different in Russia,” Danis said. “They do things their own way, they’re used it and people don’t complain much. You pretty much do what you’re told. That was the biggest difference there.

“A lot of times stuff would happen and the North American guys would be, ‘Lets say something,’ and they would say ‘No, that’s just Russia. That’s just the Russian way.’ And that was it. That was the explanation. They do things their own way.”

Reports out of Russia said the Yak-42 aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 43 people. Among those was former NHLer Brad McCrimmon, who was serving as the team’s head coach.

Other former NHLers who died in the crash included Pavol Demitra, Karlis Skrastins, Ruslan Salei, and Josef Vasicek.

“It’s still surprising, but when you look at some of the planes they were using, they were from the ’80s and the old Soviet era,” said Danis. “I think it’s time to look into that. Unfortunately it took something like this to happen, but I think they’re going to start removing those planes.”

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is one of the better-known teams in the KHL. Former Oilers defenceman Denis Grebeshkov played for the club before coming to Edmonton.

The club was on its way to Minsk to play its opening game of the KHL season.

“The thing is that Yaroslavl is one of the better teams in Russia, they have money,” Danis said. “But definitely some of the owners in that league have a lot of money. I’m sure they’re going to start ordering new planes.”

derek.vandiest@sunmedia.ca

@SUNdvandiest


Videos

Photos