With the NHL still coping with the deaths of players Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak, the hockey world is reeling with today’s tragic news out of Russia about the crash of Jaroslavl Lokomotiv’s team flight shortly after take-off. Here’s the story, starting with the original report by the Associated Press, as it has unfolded since the news broke this morning. 

MOSCOW— The Associated Press

A Russian jet carrying a local ice hockey team crashed Wednesday while taking off in western Russia, killing 36 people and leaving one critically injured, officials said.

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The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed immediately after taking off from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 240 kilometers northeast of Moscow. It said one person survived the crash with grave injuries.

The ministry said the plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl.

The team was heading to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Continental Hockey League. The CHL is a league of several ex-Soviet nations.

The team is coached by former NHLer Brad McCrimmon and the most up-to-date Jaroslavl roster lists Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins among the players on the team. Former Edmonton Oiler Alexei Mikhnov played with Lokomotiv for the past five seasons, but was not among the players listed on the most current roster.

There are are no details, as of 7:55 MT, as to who was travelling with the team and who the lone survivor was. More to come.


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Yahoo! Sports’ Dmitri Chesnokov added some clarity through translation Tweeting (@dchesnokov), SovSport is reporting that the lone survivor (at this point) is a crew member. No news about any survivors from #Lokomotiv.


TUNOSHNA, Russia (AP) — Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry says at least 43 people have died in the crash of a Russian jet carrying a top ice hockey team.

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The ministry said the plane was carrying 45 people, including 37 passengers and eight crew. The ministry said all but two people were killed in the crash.

The ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed immediately after takeoff from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow.

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Daniel Tjarnqvist, who played with the Oilers during the 2006-07 season, is listed as a player with Jaroslavl in a report by World News, but reports are he left the team earlier this summer. No confirmation on that.


Spoke with J.J. Hebert of the Oilers, but still no word if Mikhnov, drafted 17th overall by the Oilers in 2000, was a member of Jaroslavl this season and/or was travelling with the team.


According to Dmitry Chesnokov of the International Sports Press Association, a team official tells Sovetsky Sport “everyone from the main roster was on the plane and four players from the youth team.”

Lokomotiv forward Alexander Galimov survived the crash, his agent confirmed to Sovetsky Sport, Chesnokov reports.


Russian officials to SovSport: "Ruslai Salei was on board the plane."

Former NHL star Pavol Demitra’s agent, Matt Keator, confirmed his client was one of the players killed in the crash.

"This is just awful," Keator said. "He was such a popular guy with everyone he has ever played with."


This from Eetu Huisman (comment 16) :Tjärnqvist signed with Djurgården in June and Mikhnov with Metallurg Magnitogorsk in May, so neither of them was in the plane.


As per Huisman information above, Mikhnov is listed on the Metallurg Magnitogorsk roster:


Statement from KHL Website:

"Russian hockey has been stunned by news of a plane crash which has killed almost all of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s team as they travelled to Belarus for their opening fixture of the KHL season.

A club spokesman confirmed that the aircraft was carrying the club’s players to their game with Dinamo Minsk, which was due to be played on Thursday.

Among those on board was newly-appointed head coach Brad McKrimmon, recently arrived from Chicago Black Hawks to take charge of the team for the 2011-12 season. Two members of the World Championship-winning Czech team of 2010, Jan Marek and Josef Vasicek, were also among those in the crash.

The team’s Yak-42 crashed on take-off from Yaroslavl’s Tunoshna airport shortly after 4 pm Moscow time. There were just two survivors among the 45 passengers and crew on board, including player Alexander Galimov and Alexander Sizov, a member of the flight crew. Earlier reports had said that 36 of the 37 passengers had died.

Preliminary information from Rosaviatsiya suggests that the plane failed to gain height after leaving the runway and collided with a navigation beacon before coming to earth about 2 km from the airport.

Shocked silence
As news filtered through to Ufa, where the league was celebrating the start of the new season with the traditional rematch of last season’s grand final, the game was abandoned.

KHL president Alexander Medvedev interrupted play 15 minutes into the first period to announce the tragedy to a packed arena, which responded in shocked silence.

After a brief meeting between the players and officials of hosts Salavat Yulaev, guests Atlant Moscow Region and representatives of the KHL, the game was postponed.

That decision was greeted with respectful applause from the crowd, while Medvedev went on to pledge his support for the Yarolslavl club.

“We will do all that we can to ensure that top level hockey continues in Yaroslavl and that Lokomotiv remains one of the strongest clubs in the Kontinental Hockey League,” he said.

The tragedy brought sympathy and support from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is heading to Yaroslavl for an annual political forum.

His press secretary, Natalya Timakova, announced that the forum’s program would change and Medvedev would begin by visiting the scene of the disaster and holding an emergency meeting with senior transport officials.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered Russia’s transport minister, Igor Levitin, to go straight to the crash site.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel said it was "the darkest day in the history of our sport".

“Despite the substantial air travel of professional hockey teams, our sport has been spared from tragic traffic accidents,” Fasel added. “But only until now. 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 ten nations.”

Fasel will arrive in Russia on Thursday in a pre-arranged visit, and told he would take the opportunity to mourn with the Russian hockey authorities.

The Russian Hockey Federation also published a message of sympathy on its website: “The FHR expresses its deepest condolences to the bereaved families and relatives, fans and the entire hockey community”.

Lokomotiv had been traveling to Minsk for its opening fixture against Dinamo, due to be played on Thursday evening.

A decision on whether to play Thursday’s other hockey games has not yet been taken. "

NOTE: The team picture of Jaroslavl Lokomotiv posted above was taken Aug. 21, 2011.


Video of the crash scene here:


NEW YORK (September 7, 2011) — Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the
National Hockey League, today released the following statement on the
tragedy involving the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club:

 "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.”


Agent Ritch Winter interview with Jim Matheson of The Journal here:


Dmitry Chesnokov


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