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Notable NHLers among dead in Russian plane crash

Prominent former NHL players killed in Wednesday's crash.

Brad McCrimmon, 52: After a lengthy NHL career that saw him play 1,222 games for six different teams – including the Calgary Flames – Mr. McCrimmon had emerged as one of the top coaches in the game. Formerly an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings, he became Yaroslavl's head coach in May, hoping the move would lead to a head-coaching job in the NHL down the road.

Pavol Demitra, 36: The three-time NHL all-star was in the twilight of his career but loving every minute of his transition to the KHL, where he was one of the league's scoring leaders last season while playing closer to home. Mr. Demitra was the most decorated player on Yaroslavl, with 847 NHL games played with five different teams, and one of the top Slovakian players in history, having played in three Olympics and six world championships.

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Igor Korolev, 41: A respected former player who became a Canadian citizen while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mr. Korolev had recently moved into coaching and was set to serve as an assistant under Mr. McCrimmon. One of the early wave of Russians to join the NHL in the early 1990s, he played nearly 800 games with five different teams.

Ruslan Salei, 36: Nicknamed Rusty, he played 14 seasons in the NHL as a tough and dependable defenceman, spending most of his career with the Anaheim Ducks. One of the more prominent players from Belarus, Mr. Salei spent last season as a member of the Detroit Red Wings.

Karlis Skrastins, 37: The steady, stay-at-home defenceman logged a quiet 832 games in the NHL beginning in 1999, playing most of his career with the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche. One of Latvia's top players, he appeared 16 times internationally for his country and was the only Latvian to play regularly in the NHL last season.

Josef Vasicek, 30: A Stanley Cup winner with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, the 6-foot-5 Mr. Vasicek was known as the Czech Condor for his big wingspan. Never much of a scorer in the NHL, he found his niche alongside Mr. Demitra on Yaroslavl's first line and excelled in the KHL.

Karel Rachunek, 32: Yaroslavl's captain, Mr. Rachunek was drafted by the Ottawa Senators and spent most of his 371-game NHL career with the team as a poised, offence-first defenceman. He emerged as a dependable veteran on the Czech national teams in his later years, winning gold at the world championships in 2010.

Alexander Karpovtsev, 41: Another Yaroslavl coach whose name is well-known to NHL fans, Mr. Karpovtsev was one of the first three Russians to have his name engraved on the Stanley Cup when he won it in 1994 with the New York Rangers.

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THE YAKOLEV-42

4 p.m.

Local time of the crash, about 450 metres from the runway in the village of Tunosha, Russia, northeast of Moscow. The plane was carrying the Lokomotiv hockey team from its home in Yaroslavl to an away game in Minsk. The plane apparently struggled to gain altitude and then hit a signal tower before breaking apart along the Volga River.

There is no official word yet on the cause but there have been reports there could have been a problem with one of the plane's three engines.

1980

The year the Yak-42 entered service. The three-engine, mid-range, Soviet-era jet can carry 120 passengers. About a hundred Yak-42s remain in service, mostly in Russia. The Yak-42D version that crashed Wednesday was last manufactured in 1999. Russia's President Dimitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging, Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year.

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8

Fatal crashes this year, six of them since a June accident that killed most of the 52 passengers on board, highlight a terrible run of air safety problems in Russia. Eight Yak-42s have crashed over the years, with 570 fatalities.

Wire services

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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