Wednesday, September 7, 2011

KHL Tragedy kills 43

In what's already been a melancholy time for hockey with three players passing away, the news became even worse today when a Russian jet carrying the Lokomotiv team in the KHL (Continental Hockey League) crashed into a river, near the city of Yaroslavl- killing 43 and injuring two others.

The awful tragedy occured around 4 PM in Russia, devastating the KHL and hockey. Lokomotiv Yaroslavl were traveling to Minsk for their first regular season match against Dynamo Minsk when the Yak-42 crashed on the Volga river. Weather conditions weren't an issue for a plane that's been in existence since 1993. It was carrying 37 passengers and eight crew. Of the 45, only two survived including player Alexander Galimov, according to officials.

Lokomotiv, a three-time Russian League champion, included former NHLers Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, Ruslan Salei, Karlis Skrastins and new coach Brad McCrimmon, who spent 18 years in the NHL. He recently was a former assistant of the Red Wings. Former Swedish netminder Stefan Liv also was on the team.

According to resident Gina Pryakhova, who witnessed the horrifying plane crash, it was in bad shape. A chaotic scene saw rescuers pull bodies out of the Volga River as tons of police rushed to Tunazhna- a nearby village.

"It was wobbling in flight, it was clear that something was wrong," said Pryakhova. "It went down behind the trees and there was a bang and a plume of smoke."

"I saw them pulling bodies to the shore, some still in their seats with seatbelts on."

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent his transport minister to the site.

"We will do our best to ensure that hockey in Yaroslavl does not die, and that it continues to live for the people that were on that plane," said former hockey legend and current Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretyak.

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