A Russian jet carrying the Kontinental Hockey League’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crashed on Wednesday, killing most of the team players, including Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon and former Vancouver Canuck star Pavol Demitra.
Russia’s emergency situations ministry said that the 120-seat Yak-42 plane carrying the team crashed after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River northeast of Moscow. The flight reportedly took off in clear sunny weather. Witnesses indicated that the jet listed to one side before crashing shortly after takeoff.
The KHL pointed out in a statement that two people, player Alexander Galimov and one of the crew members, survived and are critically injured. “This is the darkest day in the history of our sport,” said Ren De Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation.
Demitra, 36, was entering his second season with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, following a 61-point campaign in 2010-11.
Demitra broke into the NHL in 1993 with Ottawa, which drafted him in the ninth round that year. He also played with St. Louis, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Vancouver, his final stop in 2009-10. A native of Slovakia, Demitra is said to have had an infectious energy with the ability to bring people together. He finished his NHL career with 304 goals and 768 points in 847 regular-season games.
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