The NHL is mourning the loss of several former NHL players today after a Wednesday plane crash in Russia took the lives of at least 43 who were on board. Only two men, a player Alexander Galimov and one of the crew members survived in one of the worst plane crashes to ever involve a sports team.
Former Chicago Blackhawks Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev were on the plane which crashed only moments after taking off into a riverbank.
“We stand together with the entire KHL, NHL and hockey world in mourning today’s tragic news concerning the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team,” the Hawks said in a statement. “The tragedy affects the Chicago Blackhawks family directly as we mourn the losses of Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, two players who spent time with our organization and that our fans know well. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization.”
The International Ice Hockey Federation said that 27 players were killed, two coaches and seven club officials. Also killed in the plane crash were Dallas Stars defenseman Karlis Skrastins, Slovakian national team captain and ex-NHL player Pavol Demitra, Olympic gold medal winning goaltender Stefan Liv of Sweden and the teams coach, former Detroit Red Wings assistant and NHL player Brad McCrimmon.
According to ESPN, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the plane crashed into the shores of the Volga River immediately after leaving the airport near the western city of Yaroslavl, 150 miles northeast of Moscow. The weather was sunny and clear at the time. Russian media said the plane struggled to gain altitude and then crashed into a signal tower, shattering into pieces.
The team was traveling to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for a game they were set to play on Thursday.
“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,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.
The crash comes on top of an already rough year for the NHL after losing three other players: Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and recently retired Wade Belak. The cause of the crash was not known on Wednesday but officials are saying it may have been due to technical problems.
Condolences to the families and friends of those who lost loved ones in the crash.