Hours ago, news from Russia reported a Yakovlev-42 Plane had crashed outside of Yaroslavl en route to Minsk, Belarus, the plane has now been confirmed as the charter for the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Of the 45 people on board, there has been word that three have survived, Alexander Galimov, a 26-year-old winger and Yaroslavl native, being the only player. Galimov was listed in critical condition with broken bones and burns. Various reports say he has not succumb to his injuries at the hospital despite 80% of his body being covered in burns. Russian authorities are assessing the crash as a criminal investigation with reports stating two loud noises were heard following takeoff.
The plane crashed into a beacon antenna, splitting the plane into two. The soviet era plane has claimed over 500 lives since it’s inception in 1980 and it’s production was stopped in 2002. It has been a goal of the Russian government to bar it and other soviet era style planes from taking the sky’s as newer planes are now widely available. This particular plane is said to have been 30 years old.
While no one player exceeds another through fame or glory as we are all linked together as humans, several more noticeable names stick out for fans who are unfamiliar with the Russian club. Pavol Demitra, who is arguably one of the most famous Slovakian hockey players of all-time had been with the team since last season having previously been with the Vancouver Canucks. Demitra, is also 5th all-time in St.Louis Blue’s scoring history with 493 points. Demitra had represented his country internationally since 1996. He was 36.
Ruslan Salei, who was at first believed to have been meeting the team in his hometown of Minsk was also aboard the plane. Salei had spent the majority of this NHL career with the Anaheim Ducks before being traded to the Florida Panthers. He would also play with the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings. He was 36.
Captain Karl Rachunek had spent his NHL career playing for the Ottawa Senators, New York Rangers, and New Jersey Devils. He had previously played with Yaroslavl in 2002, 2004-2006, before returning this past season. Rachunek had also spent time in Russia with Moscow’s Dynamo. He had won gold with the Czech national inline team this past summer. He was 32.
Latvian Kārlis Skrastiņš had signed with the club this past summer having played in the NHL for the past 12 years. The 37-year-old defenseman started his American career with the Nashville Predators before moving onto the Colorado Avalacnche, Florida Panthers, and Dallas Stars. Back in 2008 Skrastiņš was traded for Salei which is interesting as they both signed to the same team half way across the world. He holds the all-time NHL record for most consecutive games played for a defenseman with 495. He was 37.
Head coach Brad McCrimmon who signed with the team for his first stint of Russian coaching was also among the casulaties. McCrimmon appeared in over 1200 NHL games and was an assitant in Calgary, Atlanta, and Detroit. He was 52.
Alexander Karpovtsev who was the first Russian to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup was among the coaching staff. He was 41.
23-year-old Alexander Vasyunov who was another new addition to the Lokomotiv squad this summer spent four years in the New Jersey Devils organization. Vas appeared in 18 games last season where he earned 5 points including his first NHL goal against the Edmonton Oilers.
The club’s website is currently offline and it is unkown what the fate of the club holds. My guess is that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl has died with the players, the KHL season is said to continue accordingly with tomorrow’s games still on. This could all change within hours of course. This post will be updated throughout the day but be sure to follow us on twitter for faster news.