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jeff48109

Bethann Salei: Her heart goes on

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Bethann Salei: Her heart goes on

He was certain his papa was still looking down on him now, as certain as he was before that airplane took off and, despite never getting high enough off the ground, still landed in heaven.

Daddy was watching from above back then, too. He knew it. Why else would Mama have told her little boy to smile his biggest smile into the camera and wave?

Sitting on the other side of the world, Ruslan Salei would wave back at his laptop screen, his eyes and his heart having returned home again even as his body and his tomorrows remained in Russia.

Mama never really had cared if her little boy played hockey. That was her husband's life, Bethann Salei always figured, and a 4-year-old shouldn't have to worry about doing anything more than being a 4-year-old.

But everything changed in September when that plane fell from the Yaroslavl sky, taking 44 of the 45 souls onboard. Now, it mattered. The game mattered. Hockey mattered. A father's memory depended on it.

So, to get little Aleksandro back on the ice after the accident, after he had decided he didn't want to play the game anymore if his papa couldn't play the game anymore, Bethann had to bribe him.

With a balloon.

Every day before practice, for three weeks, they would stop at Pavilions, buy two balloons — one for Aleksandro and one for his sister, Alexis — go outside, allow the strings to slip through their hands, tickling their tiny fingers, and watch as the balloons floated away.

Higher and higher and higher still, until finally disappearing.

"It's gone, mama," Aleksandro would say then. "Papa caught it."

wolverine1817, 13dangledangle, WizardOfOz30 and 2 others like this

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"She's mad, of course, haunted by what ifs. Mad at herself for not just picking up the phone and asking Detroit coach Mike Babcock to make Ruslan an offer. He wanted so much to play with the Wings again."

"Ruslan was going to travel that day by car. The team was playing in Belarus and he had made plans to visit his family there, had arranged for a driver and everything. But then, no. Since it was the regular-season opener, since he was one of the sports' veterans and one of the team's newcomers, he decided it was more important to be a good teammate. He would travel with the boys."

:(

Edited by Danielsm

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Thank you for sharing this article. I think about Bethann from time to time and pray for her and the kids. I know Ruslan was only with the Wings for 1 year, but I wish the Red Wings would have honored him and Stephan Liv with Brad too.

Edited by Miss Wing Queen
wolverine1817 and Rick D like this

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The part about the balloons just turned me into jello, and I cried.

I also watched the story about it on "Real Sports" on HBO. There was almost a cavalier attitude on the part of the guy from the KHL that they talked to. I understand why she's looking for someone to be mad at. They said that she should get some money next month. I hope she does. It was also good to see Barry Smith - I wonder what he's doing these days? Apparently he's not coaching in Russia.

wolverine1817 likes this

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What a touching story. I couldn't imagine the emotional stress that is upon the families of these victims. Beyond the faces we knew, and knew somewhat well, there were a lot of good young hockey players lost that day. A lot of families out there suffering emotionally, and I hate to bring it up, but financially as well. These were players we watched at juniors in Buffalo not long ago.

Just a sad, sad story from every angle. Thoughts and prayers to all who are affected and suffer daily from this tragedy.

wolverine1817 likes this

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Dammit, I'm agnostic and don't even believe in that kind of "they're still with you and keeping an eye on you" but dammit if these stories don't get me

yeah, sorta same here, it's the sentiment that gets to you... and damn does it get to you ha : /

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Had to stop reading a few times on the train so as not to just start crying in front of people. Its really sad for that family. Those what if's and the blame have got to be hell to deal with. I really hope she gets Ruslan's paycheck soon.

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I think I posted this in the other thread, but this link is a more detail account of what happened. It highlights a few of the players/coaches. Just be warned...some things can't be unread.

The Team That Vanished

And I just love this one...

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