Former King Pavol Demitra killed in Russian plane crash
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Pavol Demitra, a former Kings forward and a three-time NHL All-Star, was reportedly among the players killed in Wednesday’s crash of a jetliner carrying a Russian hockey team, his agent told the Toronto Globe and Mail.
[Updated, 9:50 a.m. Sept. 7: The Kings issued this statement Wednesday: ‘The Los Angeles Kings organization is deeply saddened with the tragic news of this morning’s plane crash in Russia that was carrying the members of the KHL’s Lokomotiv organization, including former Kings forward Pavol Demitra, former Kings prospect Jan Marek and many other members of the NHL family. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the family and friends of those affected by this terrible occurrence.’]
The plane, which was carrying members of the Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv, crashed on the banks of the Volga River shortly after departing from an airport in Yaroslavl, located 150 miles northeast of Moscow. The team was flying to Belarus to play in its season opener against Dinamo Minsk.
Russian officials say a crew member and Russian player Alexander Galimov are the only survivors. Both are in critical condition.
A Czech Embassy official told the Associated Press that former NHL players Josef Vasicek and Karel Rachunek were among those killed. Latvian officials onfirmed the death of former NHL defenseman Karlis Skrastins.
Locomotiv Coach Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL defenseman who worked as assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, also died in the crash.
The weather was sunny and clear at the time of the accident, according to an Associated Press report.
Officials did not immediately release the names of all of the players and coaches who were on board, but former Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei was among the players listed on the Lokomotiv roster.
Detroit Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv was also listed on the roster. Demitra, 36, played with the Kings during the 2005-06 season, finishing third in team scoring with 62 points. He last played in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009-10 season. The Slovakian standout led Lokomotiv in scoring last season.
Salei, 36, was selected ninth overall by the Ducks in 1996, playing the first nine seasons of his NHL career in Anaheim. The Belarus native played with the Detroit Red Wings last year.
-- Austin Knoblauch
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Top photo: Emergency workers pick through the wreckage of a Russian jetliner that crashed after takeoff in Yaroslav, Russia on Wednesday. Credit: Misha Japaridze / Associated Press
Lower photo: Pavol Demitra. Credit: Times files