Russia Plane Crash: Top KHL Team Killed in Jet

A plane crashed on Wednesday in western Russia carrying a three-time champion Russian ice hockey team on board.

Thus far, it is believed that at least 43 of the 45 people aboard the plane had been killed. The two survivors are critically injured.

The majority of those that have died from the crash come from the local Russian hockey team known as Lokomotiv.

Lokomotiv has been hailed as an influential and important hockey team and the crash occurred the day before the first day of the new Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season. Lokomotiv finished the KHL season last year in third place.

The youngest player aboard the plane was reportedly 20 years old and HK Lokomotiv reportedly confirmed that their entire 37-strong main squad were all on board the Yakovlev Yak-42 plane when it crashed and caught fire shortly after taking to the air.

The plane was traveling to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, for the opening game of the KHL season.

It remains uncertain which exact team members were on the plane, but the team also consists of foreign players coming from Sweden, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic. The coach of the team, Brad McCrimmon, comes from Canada.

Some victims have already been identified including Pavol Demitra, a former Kings forward. Three Czech players, Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek, and Jan Marek were also identified as victims.

The KHL has suspended the first game of the season as a result of the crash.

It is believed that human factor and technical failure may have played a part in the crash.

Today’s devastating accident marks the first plane crash of a sports team for modern Russia but plane crashes are nothing new in the sports world.

In 1993, a plane crashed carrying the Zambian national football team, in 1961 a plane crashed carrying the U.S. Olympic figure skating team, and in 1958 a plane crashed in Munich carrying members from the Manchester United football team.

The Yaroslavl Global Policy Forum is currently taking place in the city and a moment of silence was held at the meeting to commemorate the victims of the crash.