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KHL team’s plane crashes, kills 43
- Updated: September 7, 2011
A plane carrying the Lokamotiv Yaroslavl hockey team of the KHL crashed on Wednesday, killing 43 passengers and injuring another two according to multiple reports from major media outlets.
According to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, the Yak-42 crashed immediately after takeoff from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, which is located 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow.
The plan was ferrying the Lokomotiv hockey team, based out of Yaroslavl, who were traveling to Minsk to open the KHL season against Dynamo Minsk on Thursday. Forty-five people, including 37 passengers and eight crew members, were aboard the plane when it crashed.
ESPN.com reported that Pavol Demitra’s agent, Matt Keator, confirmed that Demitra perished in the accident. Demitra spent several seasons in the NHL playing for the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks. The 36-year-old Demitra last played in the NHL for Vancouver in 2009-10.
(It’s) just aweful,” said Keator.
Former NHL player and coach Brad McCrimmon was also confirmed as being among the dead in the crash. McCrimmon served as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings last season. He vacated his position with Detroit and was named the head coach of Lokomitiv in May.
The Detroit News also confirmed that former Red Wings defenseman Ruslan Salei was killed in the crash. Salei signed with Lokomitiv over the summer as a free agent. Salei was 36.
A Czech embassy official confirmed that several Czech players, including Josef Vasiicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 2000, were among those killed.
“We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club and the international hockey community,” the KHL said in a statement. “First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today’s tragedy.
“We know that there are many in the KHL family who will be grieving with us. As the investigation of this tragedy progresses we will work closely with investigators, government officials, club executives and the Yaroslavl community. We are working to find an appropriate way to honor this club and begin the healing process from the deep loss so many of us feel today.
“We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season.”
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also released a statement about the crash, saying, “Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world — including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League.”
Several current NHL players have taken to Twitter to express their shock and offer condolensces following the tragic crash.
San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe stated in a tweet, “Hearing the tragic news about the Russian plane crash almost brought me to my knees.. So so sad and unfair. Prayers go out to all the families.”
Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan also tweeted, “I can’t believe I’m writing another one. Thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by the KHL plane crash. Too many players gone this year.”
This is certainly a sad day for the hockey world. Our thoughts go out to the families and friends of those who perished in today’s crash.