YAROSLAVL, Russia (Sept. 7, 2011) — A chartered plane carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team's main roster crashed after takeoff from the Yarolslavl airport in Russia, killing 44 and injuring two. Nine of the 44 had ties to the National Hockey League.
The Yak-42 crashed immediately after takeoff from the Yaroslavl airport, 150 miles from Moscow. It was reported that the weather was clear at the time of takeoff. The cause of the crash is still unknown at the time.
The plane was on its way to to Minsk in Belarus, where Lokomotiv Yaroslavl was scheduled to play a Kontinental Hockey League game against Dynamo Minsk on Thursday.
A rescue and recovery team has been sent to the crash site, 10 miles east of Yaroslavl. The Yak-42 that crashed into the river bank was built in 1993. It is used for short- to medium-range flights, and has been in service since 1980.
Russian newspapers report that Russia has a poor aviation safety record. Presidentreportedly promised to take Soviet-era planes out of service from next year.
For the NHL, this crash comes at a time where tragedy has already plagued the league. Three of the league's enforcers were found dead:, and recently retired Wade Belak.
Besides the Nine players who played or coached in the NHL, the Russian team was made up of players from Czech, Sweeden, Canada, Latvian, Belarus and Slovakian were also killed in the crash.
Tomas Kral, president of the Czech ice hockey association, said he was shocked to hear the news.
"Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek, and Josef Vasicek contributed greatly to the best successes of our ice hockey in the recent years, first of all to the golden medals at the world championships in 2005 and 2010," Kral said. "The were excellent players, but also great friends and personalities. That's how we will remember them."
Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation, issued a statement: "This is the darkest day in the history of our sport. This is not only a Russian tragedy, the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations. This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community."
NHL Commissioner GaryBettman released a statement: “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. Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished.”
According to a Miami Herald Tweet, Florida Panther Dmitry Kulikov, who once played for Lokimotiv, said, "it's just an empty feeling. Words can't express how I feel."
Many hockey players who knew those killed in the crash, spent some time Tweeting their prayers and thoughts.
Alex Ovechkin, captain of the Washington Capitals, Tweeted; "I'm in shock!!!!!R.I.P ...."
US Hockey Hall of Famer, who played from 1988 to 2009 for five different teams, Tweeted; "Devastating News. Plane Crash in Russia had some of my great NHL buddies on it. Sad."
Kevin Weekes, 2002 Cup Finalist, Former NHL Goaltender, Broadcaster and cohost on CBC Hockey Night In Canada, Tweeted; "Let's not wait to morn people when they pass,try to support and encourage them while they're here with us."
Officials said player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember. Galimov, 26, has suffered burns of more than 80 percent of his body.
Former NHL players who lost their lives:
, offensive player for the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks.
, former Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche defenseman.
Josef Vasicek, former New York Islanders forward.
Karel Rachunek, former New Jersey Devils defenseman.
Karlis Skrastins, former Dallas Stars defenseman.
Stefan Liv, Detroit Red Wings goalie prospect.
Lokomotiv head coach, former Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman.
Lokomotiv assistant coach, former New York Rangers defenseman.
Lokomotiv assistant coach Igor Korolev, played for theand Chicago Blackhawks.
Confirmed passanger list included:
Coaches: Brad McCrimmon, Igor Korolev, Alexander Karpovtsev, Nikolai Krivonoson.
Goalies: Stefan Liv, Alexander Vyukhin.
Defense: Pavel Tarkhanov, Karel Rachůnek, Robert Ditrich, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins, Michail Baladnin, Vitalij Anikeyenko, Marat Kalimulin, Jurij Urichev.
Forwards: Alexander Galimov, Daniil Sobchenko, Jan Marek, Ivan Tkachenko, Alexander Vasiunov, Gennady Churilov, Nikita Klyukin, Alexander Kalyanin, Sergei Ostapchuk, Pavol Demitra, Josef Vašíček, Artyom Jarchuk, Alexander Romanovskyi, Andrej Kiryukhin.
Crew: Andrei Solomentsev (captain), Igor Zhevelov (first officer), Sergei Zhuravlev, Elena Formatova, Nadezhda Maksomova, Muzacharov, Salin, Mayushkin, Alexander Sizov.
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