That's the central message behind the 'Love For Lokomotiv' bracelets that a group of Senators wives and girlfriends will be selling prior to Thursday's game against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Place. The bracelets honour the memory of the victims of a Sept. 7 plane crash in Yaroslavl, Russia, which wiped out almost the entire Kontinental Hockey League team.
In all, 44 people perished in the tragedy, killing all of Lokomotiv's roster and its coaching staff except for two team members who weren't on the flight. Funds from the bracelet sales are being earmarked to support the families of the players and team officials killed in the tragedy. The Senators are joining the hockey world in rallying behind the cause.
But beyond the financial support is the message of emotional support that those who purchase the bracelets send out by wearing them.
"It’s more about showing support and that people care by wearing those bracelets," said Ksenia Gonchar, the wife of Senators defenceman Sergei Gonchar. "It’s great that we’re raising some money, but I think the main point is that the girls overseas know that the world didn’t forget about them."
The Gonchars were immediately touched by the tragedy — Sergei knew two of the victims, assistant coaches Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, while growing up in Russia — and wanted to do something to assist the families of the victims.
"When this tragedy happened, we found out ... within hours," said Ksenia Gonchar. "We started thinking right away about how we could help and what could be done to support the families. When I found out that a few NHL hockey wives were starting a fundraiser, I was really excited to join them.
"The hockey world is small and Sergei knew a few guys growing up. We didn’t have any close friends (on the team), but it was just very touching when you think about it. You put yourself in that situation and it’s a terrible tragedy. Most guys had families with little kids and I know that a few of the wives are expecting at this moment. It’s just very sad to imagine that."
In response to the tragedy, the Gonchars ordered 2,000 of the 'Love For Lokomotiv' bracelets. A group of Senators wives and girlfiends starting at 6 p.m. Thursday at Scotiabank Place. You'll find them stationed at Gate 1 and Gate 2.
As well, all three Sens Store locations — at Scotiabank Place, Carlingwood Mall and Place d'Orleans — are selling the bracelets for the duration of the season. The cost is $10 and the Sens Foundation has agreed to match the total funds raised by each purchase.