There isn’t much to say other than that the hockey world is in shock after the news of a plane crash that happened near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia. According to Russia’s Emergency Situations Ministry, the crash has claimed the lives of at least 43 people, the majority of which are the members of the Kontinental Hockey League club, Lokomotiv.
There were New York Ranger connections to several of the players who were killed. Alexander Karpotsev, a member of the 1994 Rangers’ Stanley Cup team was a coach on the team. Karel Rachunek was a defenseman who played parts of two seasons in New York and Jan Marek who was selected by the Blueshirts in round 8 (#243 overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Many of the other players had NHL connections.
Pavel Demitra, a very dear friend of Rangers’ star Marian Gaborik, was killed. As were Ruslan Salei and Josef Vašíček.
Alexander Vasyunov, who played for the Devils, was also on the roster. Vasyunov was a childhood friend of Rangers’ center Artem Anisimov. Howlings and Bruce Berlet were there when the Vasyunov, then with the Lowell Devils and Anisimov, then with the Hartford Wolf Pack played against each other for the first time in North America. We stood by as the two friends talked after the game with gigantic smiles on their faces.
Also among the dead are Vitali Anikienko, an Ottawa Senators’ draft pick in 2005; Stefan Liv, a 2000 Detroit Red Wings pick who played for Grand Rapids (AHL) and Toledo (ECHL) and Kārlis Skrastiņš, a Nashville draft pick in 1998 and played for Nashville, Colorado, Florida and Dallas. Daniil Sobchenko was among those taken by the crash. he was a 2011 pick for San Jose and Ivan Tkachenko was a 2002 draft pick for Columbus.
Brad McCrimmon, the team’s head coach, also had a Hartford connection having played defense for the Whalers from 1993 -1996. McCrimmon was most recently an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings before taking the Yaroslavl job in May.
McCrimmon also played three years with Boston (’79-’82), five with Philadelphia (’82-87), three with Calgary (’87-’90), three with Detroit (90-93), then had his stint in Hartford before finishing his 17 year career with Phoenix in the 199601997 season.
McCrimmon appeared in 1,222 regular-season games in the NHL, collecting 81 goals, 322 assists and 1,416 penalty minutes.
As a coach, he was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and the Red Wings and got his first head coaching assignment as the leader of the Western Hockey League’s Saskatoon Blades.
Details of the deadly crash can be found at the NHL.com.