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Hockey world reacts to Russian plane crash tragedy

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The plane crash that claimed the lives of at least 43 people, including players and coaches of the Russian hockey league team Yaroslavl Lokomotiv has stunned the sporting world.

Several former NHLers, including former Kings forward Pavol Demitra and Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei were among the people killed when the team's flight when down shortly after takeoff Wednesday from an airport in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Here are some reactions to the tragedy:

“This is the darkest day in the history of our sport. This is not only a Russian tragedy, the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations. This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community with so many nationalities involved. Our thoughts and prayers are with family and friends of the victims. Despite the substantial air travel of professional hockey teams, our sport has been spared from tragic traffic accidents. But only until now.”

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel

“We will do our best to ensure that hockey in Yaroslavl does not die, and that it continues to live for the people that were on that plane.”

Russian Ice Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretyak

“The news about their death has been a shock for us. Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek contributed greatly to the best successes of our ice hockey in the recent years, first of all to the gold medals at the world championships in 2005 and 2010. They were excellent players, but also great friends and personalities. That's how we will remember them.”

— Czech Ice Hockey association president Tomas Kral


“Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news it received today. The tragic plane crash involving Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League has left all of us beyond words. I had the pleasure of knowing several members of the team, plus the entire coaching staff. In particular, Alexander Vasyunov, who played for us last season, was an outstanding young man and a gifted athlete. Captain Karel Rachunek skated for us in 2007-08. Both were members of the Devils family. On behalf of the entire Devils organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the entire Lokomotiv club.”

— New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello

“We are deeply saddened to learn of today's tragedy in Russia. Josef (Vasicek) was a key part of the Hurricanes for six years, helping us achieve some of our greatest successes. More importantly, he was a great teammate on and off the ice, and was respected as a person as well as a player. Brad McCrimmon was a member of our team while we were still in Hartford, and was well-liked by all who came in contact with him. His presence in the hockey community will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Vasicek and McCrimmon families, and the loved ones of all of today's victims.”

Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford

“That's horrible. I had many close friends there, I know the families. Just half a year ago, I trained those guys…”

Czech coach Vladimir Vujtek, who guided Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to league titles in 2002 and 2003.

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.

-- Los Angeles Kings

“I want to extend our sincere condolences to family of players, coaches and staff members … the thoughts and prayers of the Penguins, the NHL family and the hockey world are with you during this difficult time.”

Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ray Shero

“I think it's a huge loss for the hockey world, something like this happens. A tragedy for the hockey world.”

Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom

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-- Austin Knoblauch

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: A man places candles at a makeshift memorial outside a sports complex in Minsk, Belarus, on Wednesday. Credit: Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

 
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