A nightmare of a story out of Russia today as a plane crash near the central Russian city of Yaroslavl involving most of the members of KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has seen nearly all the members of the team killed in the accident. It’s being reported by Yahoo!’s Dmitry Chesnokov that all but one player were killed in the accident and that the lone survivor, Alexander Galimov, may not survive his injuries including being burned over 80% of his body.
Lokomotiv’s team was made up of former NHL players such as former Canucks and Rangers forward Pavol Demitra, former Rangers and Senators defenseman Karel Rachunek, former Hurricanes forward Josef Vasicek, and Devils prospect Alexander Vasyunov. The entire list of those believed to be on board can be found here at the Edmonton Journal.
Former Red Wings assistant coach as well as former Wings and Flyers player Brad McCrimmon was the head coach of the team while former NHLers Igor Korolev and Alexander Karpovtsev were assistant coaches. According to the report on NHL.com, the plane wasn’t in the air long before seeing trouble.
According to the reports on the crash, the plane, a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger jet, went down and caught fire shortly immediately after taking to the air, crashing less than 2 kilometers from the airport.
It was en route to Minsk, Belarus for a Thursday night game against Dynamo Minsk.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the crashed immediately after taking off from an airport near the city on the Volga River, which is approximately 150 miles northeast of Moscow.
In a summer that’s been filled with tragedy of more personal nature with the deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, and Wade Belak this plane crash comes as an unspeakable tragedy. With so many former NHL players and current Russian players involved in this disaster, the pain felt in the hockey community grows exponentially.
Making the story all the more difficult to handle, Chesnokov reports that the entire Lokomotiv team was on board the plane because they were preparing to head to the first game of the season and wanted to celebrate together appropriately.
The KHL suspended the one game that was being played today in light of the tragedy.
The KHL released this statement on today’s accident.
We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club on the friends we’ve lost and the international hockey community.
First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families 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. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape.
Update (12:28 p.m.): We’re removing Ruslan Salei from the list of those who have perished due to conflicting reports over whether he was on the plane or already in Minsk awaiting the team.
Update (1:37 p.m.): American correspondent for Russian paper Sport Express, Slava Malamud, tweets that the Belarus Hockey Federation and Russian Emergency Ministry confirm that Ruslan Salei has also died.
Malamud also reports that the plane the team was flying on was forbidden from European Union airspace for being too unsafe by the European Air Safety Commission. That story comes from allhockey.ru.