Brad McCrimmon, former Atlanta Thrashers assistant coach
Yaroslavl, Russia (Sports Network) - An airplane carrying members of a Russian hockey team crashed Wednesday shortly after taking off, killing at least 43 people, including a number of former NHL players.
According to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry, a Yak-42 plane crashed just after taking off from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga River. A total of 45 people were on board, including 37 passengers and eight crew members.
The Kontinental Hockey League confirmed on its website that the aircraft was carrying players and staff of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club. The team was flying to Minsk, Belarus, to open the season Thursday against Dinamo Minsk.
According to the KHL, newly-appointed head coach Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL defenseman and assistant coach with the Atlanta Thrashers, was among those killed, as were recent NHL stars Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek.
"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," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. "Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."
Rt.com, an English-speaking Russian news outlet, has reported that two people survived the crash. One, according to the report, is a crew member and the other is team member Aleksandr Galimov. Both have been hospitalized with severe burns.
Reports indicate the plane failed to gain height after leaving the runway and collided with a navigation beacon before crashing about two kilometers from the airport.
The Sports Network