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09-07-2011, 10:44 AM
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Demitra's agent confirmed that his client was on the plane.

This article also provides the roster:

Enlarge this imagePavol Demitra among 43 killed in Russian plane crash
MOSCOW— The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, Sep. 07, 2011 9:11AM EDT
Last updated Wednesday, Sep. 07, 2011 11:37AM EDT
87 comments Email Print/License Decrease text size Increase text size A Russian jet carrying a local hockey team crashed Wednesday while taking off in western Russia, killing 43 people and leaving two others critically injured, officials said. It was one of the worst crashes ever involving a sports team.

The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed in sunny weather immediately after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 240 kilometres northeast of Moscow.

In pictures: 43 dead after Russian jet carrying hockey team crashes Video
Russian jet carrying hockey team crashes Timeline
Timeline: Athletes killed in plane crashes Former NHL star Pavol Demitra's agent, Matt Keator, confirmed his client was one of the players killed in the crash.

"This is just awful," Keator said. "He was such a popular guy with everyone he has ever played with."

The Russian ministry said the plane was carrying the Lokomotiv ice hockey team from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season of the Kontinental Hockey League. The ministry was carrying 45 people, including 37 passengers and eight crew, and two people survived the crash.

It wasn't immediately clear which players were on board the Yak-42, and no one answered the phone at Lokomotive's press office Wednesday morning. Officials said player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember.

The KHL is an international club league that pits together teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the nation's transport minister to the site, 15 kilometers east of Yaroslavl.

According to Rossiya 24 television, the crash happened after the plane was not able to gain altitude and collided with an antenna beacon.

The plane that crashed was relatively new, built in 1993, and belonged to a small Yak Service company.

Swarms of police and rescue crews rushed to Tunoshna, a picturesque village with a blue-domed church on the banks of the Volga River. One of the plane's engines could be seen poking out of the river and a flotilla of boats combed the water for bodies. Russian rescue workers struggled to heft the bodies of large, strong athletes in stretchers up the muddy, steep riverbank.

One resident, Irina Pryakhova, saw the plane going down, hearing a loud bang and then seeing a plume of smoke.

“It was wobbling in flight, it was clear that something was wrong,” she said. “I saw them pulling bodies to the shore, some still in their seats with seatbelts on.”

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a leading force in Russian hockey and came third in the KHL last year. It's coached by Brad McCrimmon, a native of Saskatchewan, who played defence for six NHL teams — Boston, Philadelphia, Calgary, Detroit, Hartford and Phoenix from 1979-80 to 1996-97.

He played 1,222 regular season games in the NHL, collecting 81 goals, 322 assists and 1,416 penalty minutes.

Mr. McCrimmon was an assistant coach with the New York Islanders, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Detroit Red Wings. He also served as head coach of the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades.

Lokomotiv was a three-time Russian League champion in 1997, 2002 and 2003 and took the bronze last season. The Russian team also featured several top European players and former NHL stars, including Slovakian forward and national team captain Pavol Demitra, who played in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues and Vancouver Canucks.

Other top names include forward Josef Vasicek of the Czech Republic, Czech defenseman Karel Rachunek, Russian defensemen Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins, and Swedish goalie Stefan Liv.

A cup match between hockey teams Salavat Yulaev and Atlant in the central Russian city of Ufa was called off midway after news of the crash was announced by Konintental Hockey League head Alexander Medvedev.

Russian television broadcast images of an empty arena in Ufa as grief-stricken fans abandoned the stadium.

“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,” said Russian Ice Hockey Federation President Vladislav Tretyak.

The short- and medium-range Yak-42 has been in service since 1980 and dozens are still in service with Russian and other airlines.

In June, another Russian passenger jet crashed in the northwestern city of Petrozavodsk, killing 47 people. The crash of that Tu-134 plane has been blamed on pilot error.

President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year.

The team’s 25-player roster includes the following players who were born in Russia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden:

• Anikeyenko, Vitaly

• Balandin, Mikhail

• Vasyunov, Alexander

• Vasicek, Josef

• Vyukhin, Alexander

• Galimov, Alexander

• Demitra, Pavol

• Ditrih, Robert

• Kalimulin, Marat

• Kalyanin, Alexander

• Kiryukhin, Andrei

• Klyukin, Nikita

• Liv, Stefan

• Marek, Jan

• Ostapchuk, Sergei

• Rachunek, Karel

• Saley, Ruslan

• Skrastinsh, Karlis

• Snurnitsyn, Pavel

• Sobchenko, Daniil

• Tkachenko, Ivan

• Trakhanov, Pavel

• Churilov, Gennady

• Shuvalov, Maksim

• Yarchuk, Artyom

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