Plane Crash Kills Entire Russian Hockey Team
Last Wednesday, tragedy struck the international hockey community when a plane carrying the entire Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League crashed just outside of the city of Yaroslavl. A total of 44 people died in the plane crash, including the entire team, two coaches, and seven other staff members. One member of the flight crew survived, but is still in intensive care at a hospital in Moscow.
The last surviving player from the team, 26-year-old forward Alexander Galimov, died earlier this morning from severe burn injuries that covered approximately 90% of his body. Despite receiving treatment at one of Russia’s best burn units, he was unable to pull through. Galimov was native of Yaroslavl and had played in the city’s youth hockey program as a junior. He was a fan favorite due to his loyalty to his home town.
Many of the other players and coaches had been former NHL players, including:
- Brad McCrimmon – head coach and former defenseman with the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers
- Alexander Karpovtsev – assistant coach and former defenseman for the New York Rangers
- Igor Korolev – assistant coach and former Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks forward
- Pavol Demitra – former forward for the St. Louis Blues, Minnesota Wild, and Vancouver Canucks
- Ruslan Salei – former defenseman for the Anaheim Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, and Colorado Avalanche
- Josef Vasicek – former forward for the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes
The plane crash ranks as one of the worst ever aviation disasters in the sports world. The Yak-42 jet crashed into the Volga River bank shortly after takeoff and immediately burst into flames. Russian aviation experts are still unsure of the cause of the plane crash. While the plane seemed to struggle gaining altitude after takeoff, flight data recorders indicated that all three engines were still functioning at the time the plane crashed. Some experts claim that Russia’s poor aviation safety record is largely due to an aging fleet, weak government controls, poor pilot training, and a cost-cutting mentality.
The team was traveling to Minsk, Belarus at the time of the plane crash to play their first game of the Kontinental Hockey League season.