Forty-three people have died in a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger plane crash near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia. The majority of victims were members of the local ice hockey team Lokomotiv of the Kontinental Hockey League. The plane crashed on take-off after hitting an air traffic tower at the airport and witnesses are reporting that the plane was reduced to a pile of charred metal. It is also reported that the plane broke off in two and one half fell into water and another one on the ground. So far 31 bodies have been recovered from the river, local rescue services say.
Several of the victims were foreign players for the club. The squad includes players from the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden. Among the victims, former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, and Josef Vasicek, as well as goaltender Stefan Liv who was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2000. Former Red Wings assistant coach Brad McCrimmon is also among the victims.
Demitra played 847 games in the NHL with the Senators, Blues, Kings, Wild, and Canucks scoring 304 goals and 464 assists for 768 points. He reached the 60-point plateau six times. Demitra played in the KHL last season.
Rachunek played 371 games in the NHL with the Senators, Rangers and Devils notching 22 goals and 118 assists for 140 points. Rachunek has been playing in the KHL since the 2008-09 season.
Salei played 917 games in the NHL with the Ducks, Panthers, Avalanche and Red Wings notching 45 goals and 159 assists for 204 points. He reached the Stanley Cup finals with the Ducks in 2002-03. Salei played for the Red Wings last year.
Skrastins played 832 games in the NHL with the Predators, Avalanche, Panthers and Stars recording 32 goals and 104 assists for 136 points. He played for the Stars last season.
Vasicek played 460 games in the NHL with the Hurricanes, Predators and Islanders recording 77 goals and 106 assists for 183 points. He played for the Stars last season. He reached the Stanley Cup finals with the Hurricanes in 2001-02.
The Yaroslavl HC Lokomotiv were Russian Champions in 1997, 2002 and 2003. The squad was to play a match against Mink HC Dinamo on Thursday. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov was rumored to join Lokomotiv this summer, but chose NHL instead. A very wise decision.
Condolences to the KHL, the friends and families of all involved.
Video of the crashed plane here.
Source: SovSports and Reuters
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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com