Two former St. Louis Blues players killed in plane crash
Updated at 5:00 pm with statement from Keith Tkachuk.
Updated at 2:25 pm with statement from Blues president John Davidson.
Updated at 11:10 am with information about death of another former Blues player.
Two former St. Louis Blues players were among those killed this morning in the crash of a Russian passenger jet that was carrying members of a Russian professional hockey team.
Pavol Demitra played for St. Louis from 1996 to 2004. His agent, Matt Keator, confirmed his death. And former Blues center Igor Korolev, who was drafted by the team in the second round in 1992 and played in St. Louis for two seasons, was also killed in the crash. Korolev had played the last six season in Russia, and was reportedly a coach for the team, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
The team was traveling to Belarus for the first game of a new professional Russian league.
St. Louis Blues team president John Davidson issued the following statement:
“On behalf of the St. Louis Blues, we are deeply saddened by the tragedy that took place today in Russia involving the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey club. The entire hockey community has been affected by this news and our most heart-felt condolences go out to the families of those who perished.” “The St. Louis Blues have lost two members of our family, Pavol Demitra and Igor Korolev, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families as well. Pavol and Igor were both incredibly passionate and dedicated players and their influence in St. Louis was not only felt on the ice, but throughout the community.”
Retired St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk, who played with Demitra for four season in St. Louis, said in a statement that he was "beyond devastated" at the accident, saying "'Pav' was like a brother to me and I cannot believe that he is no longer with us." Tkachuk also played with and for Brad McCrimmon, who was also killed
From the Russian news agency RIA Novosti:
"The Yak-42 plane was carrying the team to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, for the start of the new Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The side is coached by Canadian Brad McCrimmon, a former Detroit Red Wings assistant. The plane crashed at 4:00 p.m. Moscow time (noon GMT). The plane fell to earth straight after take-off and burst into flames. "Passenger body parts were found in the Volga River, where part of the fuselage fell," a police source said.
Reports say the plane could not get the right altitude on take-off and crashed into a radar. Thirty-six bodies have been pulled from the wreckage, and investigators are looking for six more.
Pavol Demitra entered the league with the Ottawa Senators, and came to St. Louis in a trade for Christer Olsson. He also played for the Los Angeles Kings, the Minnesota Wild, and the Vancouver Canucks, and represented Slovakia in three Olympics.
He was named to three All Star teams during his time with the St. Louis Blues. He reached career highs in assists and points in 2002-2003, when he was sixth in the league overall in scoring. He also won the Lady Byng Trophy for sportsmanship as a Blue.
Igor Korolev started his NHL career with the Blues after playing in Russia for two years. He would also play for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Chicago Blackhawks.
A list of the passengers on the plane is available here. (via SovSport)