More horrible news out of the hockey world this morning, as a plane carrying over 40 people, the majority of them members of the KHL team Lokomotiv, has crashed. From Russia Today:
The plane went down and caught fire shortly after taking to the air. Preliminary reports say it had insufficient lift and hit a beacon tower. An air traffic controller told Itar-Tass, that the aircraft was some 50 to 60 meters above the ground when it tilted to the left and crashed.
The crash site is between 500 and 1,000 meters from the runway, according to different reports. The incident happened just next to the Volga River and some fragments of the aircraft and bodies of the victims fell into the water. So far 26 bodies have been recovered from the river, local rescue services say.
HK Lokomotiv confirmed that its entire 37-strong main squad was on board the Yak-42. They were traveling to the Belarusian capital Minsk.
Emergencies Ministry reported there were 42 people onboard. Two of them survived the crash.
Puck Daddy’s Dmitri Chesnokov reports that four of the other five people onboard were member’s of Lokomotiv’s youth team.
A quick perusal of the Lokomotiv roster yields a bevy of names that will be familiar to NHL fans — guys like Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, Karlas Skrastins and Ruslan Salei — and one that will be especially familiar to those of us on the West Coast: former Canuck and Mike Gillis client and friend Pavol Demitra.
It has been reported that all were onboard the flight and none survived.
Demitra played two seasons for the Canucks, scoring 23 goals and 69 points. He was also the best forward for Team Slovakia at the Vancouver Olympics, as well as one of the best overall players in the tournament. Demitra is survived by his wife, Maja, and his two children Lucas and Zara.
The Demitras are no strangers to tragedy. In 2005, their son, Tobias, twin brother to Zara, died not long after birth due to a congenital defect in his lungs.
Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune spoke to Demitra’s current agent, Matt Keator. Of Demitra, Keator said, “People were drawn to Demo. He was a great friend and great teammate.” He added, “He was always the type to bring people together.”
Unquestionably, this has been the most awful offseason in hockey’s history. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and communities of the victims of this tragedy.
EDIT: The Vancouver Canucks have released the following statement:
Tags: Demitra, featured, KHL, spotlight, The Worst News
It is with great sadness that we learn of the sudden passing of Pavol Demitra and his colleagues of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club today. Pavol was dedicated and passionate about his young family and the game of hockey. Pavol was a valued teammate and member of our organization and will be sorely missed. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Demitra family and their friends so affected by this tragedy.