A Russian plane crash has killed almost all passengers on board, including former New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Islanders hockey players among the dead on Wednesday.
A Czech embassy official confirmed that Josef Vasicek, former New York Islander team member and Karel Rachunek, former New York Ranger and New Jersey Devil, died in the crash. Another former player of the New Jersey team that joined the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League and died in the plane crash is Alexander Vasyunov, according to ESPN reports.
Lou Lamoriello, Devils general manager, confirmed the death of Vasyunov to ESPN New York on Wednesday, expressing his regret.
"I don't think anybody can prepare for something like this," Lamoriello said of 23-year old Vasyunov. "It's just devastating news. Words can't express my personal feelings."
Gary Bettman, NHL commissioner, spoke to ESPN about the tragedy impacting the entire world of hockey.
"Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world -- including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League,” Bettman said. “Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."
Many NHL players took to their Twitter accounts to react to the tragedy after the news was announced. One of these players was San Jose Sharks’ Ryane Clowe.
"Hearing the tragic news about the Russian plane crash almost brought me to my knees,” Clowe tweeted on Wednesday. “So so sad and unfair."
The KHL officially released a statement expressing their condolences and speaking about their plans for the 2011/2012 season while recovering from the tragedy.
“First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today's tragedy,” the statement read, according to ESPN. “We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape."