Sept. 7, 2011
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TUNOSHNA, Russia (APCSN) -- A Russian jet carrying the top ice hockey team Lokomotiv crashed while taking off Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 43 people and leaving two critically injured, officials said.Daniil Sobchenko, a 2011 draft pick of the Sharks, was listed on the roster of the KHL team and a statement from the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry confirmed his death.
The 20-year-old forward was selected in the sixth round in June's draft with the 166th pick overall.RATTO: New low in hockey's tragic offseason
Lokomotiv officials said that "everyone from the main roster was on the plane plus four players from the youth team."Sharks GM Doug Wilson released the following statement shortly before 3 p.m.:
We are very saddened to report that the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has published a list stating that Sharks prospect Daniil Sobchenko was aboard the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane that crashed today in Yaroslavl, Russia. Daniil attended our development camp this past July and everyone on our staff agreed that he had a bright future with our organization. He was an amazing person with a fun-loving personality and his attitude and energy during his time in San Jose was infectious. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family and friends.
This is a difficult day for the hockey world. Many people in our organization had existing relationships with other Lokomotiv players, coaches and staff members. We send our sincere condolences to their families as well.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the Yak-42 plane crashed immediately after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles northeast of Moscow. It was carrying 45 people, including 37 passengers and eight crew, and the ministry said all but two people were killed in the crash.According to a report on the Web site Hockey'sFuture, the 20-year-old Russian center recently participated in San Jose's rookie prospects camp.Sobchenko recently skated in the Sharks' rookie prospect camp. "I had a whole schedule there. I had to get up at 6 AM as at 6:45 we had to go to the practices," he told the Web site. "There we had both breakfast and lunch. And I would get back to the hotel only at 6 PM. We had two ice sessions a day, some gym, and two or three summits every day", Sobchenko said in Russian, while training with his KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in sight of the upcoming 2011-12 KHL season.
The weather was sunny and clear at the time of the crash, according to reports from the scene.
"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," said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman. "Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin immediately sent the nation's transport minister to the site, 10 miles east of Yaroslavl.The ministry said the plane was carrying Lokomotiv from Yaroslavl to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, where it was to play Thursday against Dinamo Minsk in the opening game of the season in the Kontinental Hockey League.The KHL is an international club league that pits together teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.Lokomotiv Yaroslavl is a leading force in Russian hockey and came third in the KHL last year. It's coached by Canadian Brad McCrimmon and includes several international stars in its ranks, such as Stefan Liv of Sweden and Czech Republic players Josef Vaicek and Jan Marek. Lokomotiv was a three-time Russian League champion in 1997, 2002 and 2003 and took the bronze last season.It wasn't immediately clear which players were on board the Yak-42 on Wednesday.
"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.
According to the noted aeronautics Web site Flightglobal, the operator of the aircraft was prohibited from operation in certain areas of Europe:
Russian operator Yak Service, the operator of theYakovlev Yak-42 which crashed at Yaroslavl today, had previously come under safety scrutiny from European and domestic regulators.In June last year Russian authorities informed the European air safety committee that Yak Service had been prohibited from operating into European Civil Aviation Conference airspace since 18 May.The measures were among a series designed to improve oversight of certain carriers following an "increasing number of findings raised during ramp checks having an impact on safety", said the European Union's Official Journal in July 2010.
President Dmitry Medvedev has announced plans to take aging Soviet-built planes out of service starting next year.In other plane crashes involving sports teams, 75 Marshall University football players, coaches, fans and airplane crew died in a plane crash in Kentucky on Nov. 17, 1970 on the way home from a game.
Thirty members of the Uruguayan rugby club Old Christians were killed in a crash in the Andes in 1972.
The entire 18-member U.S. figure skating team died in a crash on their way to the 1961 world championships in Brussels.
In 1949, the Torino soccer team lost 18 players near Turin, Italy, while the Munich air crash of 1958 cost eight Manchester United players their lives.