MORE TRAGEDY: LOKOMOTIV PLANE CRASHES

Robin Brownlee
September 07 2011 07:50AM

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.

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.

UPDATE

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.

UPDATE

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.

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.

UPDATE

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.

UPDATE

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.

UPDATE

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.

UPDATE

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

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."

UPDATE

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.

UPDATE

As per Huisman information above, Mikhnov is listed on the Metallurg Magnitogorsk roster: en.khl.ru/clubs/metallurg_mg

UPDATE

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.

Condolences
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 IIHF.com 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.

UPDATE

Video of the crash scene here: www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/europe/09/07/russia.plane.crash/index.html

UPDATE

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.”

UPDATE

Agent Ritch Winter interview with Jim Matheson of The Journal here: blogs.edmontonjournal.com/2011/09/07/ritch-winter-remembers-pavol-demitra/

UPDATE

Dmitry Chesnokov
 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#51 Sincity1976
September 07 2011, 02:59PM
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Horrible summer for Hockey. Really tough news.

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#52 RKD
September 07 2011, 03:28PM
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Awful news, another terrible tragedy. RIP Brad McCrimmon, Pavol Demitra, and to all the other players killed. Worst offseason ever.

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#53 schevvy
September 07 2011, 03:51PM
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Absolutely horrible news. The hockey world is having a real rough summer. RIP to all the victims, and thoughts and prayers are with their friends and families. I can't imagine being Alexander Galimov or the crew member who survived. Life will never be the same for them again.

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#54 Puritania
September 07 2011, 04:00PM
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Damn, that's horrible.

Condolences to the friends, family and everyone involved.

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#55 ZaidMC
September 07 2011, 04:08PM
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Sad day,

so was Ruslan Salei on the flight?

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#56 RKD
September 07 2011, 04:12PM
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ZaidMC according to NHL.com Ruslan Salei was on the flight.

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#57 Oilcruzer
September 07 2011, 05:00PM
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Buddy Holly would be 75 today. Waylon Jennings decided to give up his seat on the plane, and Buddy took it.

Buddy said, "I hope you freeze on your drive", and Waylon shot back "Well, maybe your plane will crash"

He is still haunted by that.

American Pie is the song that mourns the loss of Holly, Valens, the Bopper...

..."the day the music died"

Don't know why, but somehow, I felt it necessary to share that true story; perhaps its because today, this day, I feel is a day when a piece of the hockey world died.

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#58 Wanyes bastard child
September 07 2011, 05:40PM
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Well fck me... when it rains it pours...

RIP

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#59 Waylon Jennings Ghost
September 07 2011, 07:28PM
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Oilcruzer wrote:

Buddy Holly would be 75 today. Waylon Jennings decided to give up his seat on the plane, and Buddy took it.

Buddy said, "I hope you freeze on your drive", and Waylon shot back "Well, maybe your plane will crash"

He is still haunted by that.

American Pie is the song that mourns the loss of Holly, Valens, the Bopper...

..."the day the music died"

Don't know why, but somehow, I felt it necessary to share that true story; perhaps its because today, this day, I feel is a day when a piece of the hockey world died.

Since Waylon died a few years back, I doubt he's still haunted by this. And Waylon gave up his seat to the big bopper because the bopper had the flu.

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#60 Oilcruzer
September 07 2011, 09:56PM
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@Waylon Jennings Ghost

Ah, my mistake... Forgot he passed on... Confused him with Willie Nelson. Don't think that he traded with the bopper tho... And remember well his remorse...

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#61 Derzie
September 07 2011, 11:32PM
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Heartbreaking.

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#62 Sheldon Oilers Fan for Life!!!
September 08 2011, 07:12AM
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I would hope that the NHL would wear a shoulder patch for the season as a memorial. In the end we all just love the game.

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#63 michael
September 08 2011, 08:04AM
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A day later and I am still numb. Listening to the Jim Rome Show. It took Rome about 10 minutes before he clued into what was going on in Russia. The Canadian emailers were flooding him with information after he opened the show with everything but the crash. When he clued in he changed his tune quickly. How does one who makes his living commenting on sports not know. His group of research assistants must have been asleep. This was the story of the day. Not some commentary about who is going to be the backup starter on the Miami Dolphins.So glad that we in Canada are blessed with the quality of reporting that puts people first.Robin has been your experience/if any with airline travel in Russia? Listening to comments onair it seems that it should be a major concern for the Olympic Commitee going into Sochii in 2014. Fly the friendly Skies its not from all indications.

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#64 everton fc
September 08 2011, 08:23AM
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Sheldon Oilers Fan for Life!!! wrote:

I would hope that the NHL would wear a shoulder patch for the season as a memorial. In the end we all just love the game.

This is a great idea, Sheldon. The team Lokomotiv logo, on the shoulders of all players, all teams... for the balance of the season... Exceptional.

Kent/Pat/et al... Kerr... those on the airwaves... Push this one up to Bettman and the league offices. Beats a black armband, any day, all days... This needs to happen.

So many former NHLers... Draft picks... We are all part of the same hockey culture. The same family. Fans/players, alike. This idea connects us with our KHL family....

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#67 Quicksilver ballet
September 08 2011, 09:33AM
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Even though the KHL isn't much of a threat to the NHL i can't imagine the NHL acknowledging this incident. Perhaps teams most impacted may hold a brief moments silence prior to an exhibition game maybe.

Sept 11th netted a helmet sticker for NHL clubs, can't imagine one accident commanding the same attention.

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#68 mayorpoop
September 08 2011, 10:13AM
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@Quicksilver ballet

you are a bit of a downer debbie. living up to that avatar must be a real challenge, or not.

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#69 Quicksilver ballet
September 08 2011, 11:20AM
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mayorpoop wrote:

you are a bit of a downer debbie. living up to that avatar must be a real challenge, or not.

Not everyone takes comfort in seeing the Oiler logo mired in the ditch like it's been 3 yrs running. Our civic pride deserves better, i think of myself as a realist rather than a black cloud.

When something goes wrong in our lives we all strive to fix it, get it done so harmony can be restored. Paul Holmgren fixed the Flyers issues inside of a two week span during the summer, what's Tambellinis problem? One deal at a time, he's going in the wrong direction.(Khabibulin,Whitney,O'Sullivan etc.)

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#70 mayorpoop
September 08 2011, 11:53AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Not everyone takes comfort in seeing the Oiler logo mired in the ditch like it's been 3 yrs running. Our civic pride deserves better, i think of myself as a realist rather than a black cloud.

When something goes wrong in our lives we all strive to fix it, get it done so harmony can be restored. Paul Holmgren fixed the Flyers issues inside of a two week span during the summer, what's Tambellinis problem? One deal at a time, he's going in the wrong direction.(Khabibulin,Whitney,O'Sullivan etc.)

with regards to the oilers i am all for realism, and in the necessity to implore improvement from mr dithers.

the flyers? we shall see what becomes of that tangled web homlgren has spun.

relative to the tragedies the hockey world has faced tho, you tend lean towards downer debbie.

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#71 Quicksilver ballet
September 08 2011, 12:17PM
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mayorpoop wrote:

with regards to the oilers i am all for realism, and in the necessity to implore improvement from mr dithers.

the flyers? we shall see what becomes of that tangled web homlgren has spun.

relative to the tragedies the hockey world has faced tho, you tend lean towards downer debbie.

Tragedies are all around us all the time mayor. Well over a hundred people die every week here in Edmonton. Is the love lost here in hospitals on a daily basis any less relavent to the ones whom perished yesterday? Why should these 44 be put up on a pedestal?

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#72 mayorpoop
September 08 2011, 12:21PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Tragedies are all around us all the time mayor. Well over a hundred people die every week here in Edmonton. Is the love lost here in hospitals on a daily basis any less relavent to the ones whom perished yesterday? Why should these 44 be put up on a pedestal?

nope they should not. i 100% agree with you and am often frustrated by the blinders society sometimes wears when assessing tragedies.

the only thing is that because this a hockey forum and it may not be the place, here, to subscribe to that feeling.

no doubt tho, you are correct.

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