Russia and the world’s top ice hockey officials and players were united in their reactions to the plane crash in Central Russia, which claimed the lives of almost the whole squad of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, one of the KHL Western Conference leaders.
“This is an irretrievable loss,” said the head of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation, Vladislav Tretyak. “I still can’t believe what has happened. Our hockey has lost remarkable players and coaches. This is a horrible tragedy in the history of the Russian sport. I express my condolences to the families and friends of the dead, as well as to all hockey fans.”
“It’s hard to speak minutes after such an awful tragedy,” said legendary Soviet player and CSKA president Vyacheslav Fetisov. “We must support the team and its supporters. We need to think over how to re-establish the club in Yaroslavl. Perhaps we could make a new round of the draft. The NHL has seen such examples when new teams were created.”
"This is the darkest day in the history of our sport. This is not only a Russian tragedy, the Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 nations. This is a terrible tragedy for the global ice hockey community with so many nationalities involved," AP quotes International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel as saying.
"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," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stated on behalf of the league.
“I’m in shock,” NHL star Alexander Ovechkin wrote in his Twitter. “Rest in peace!”
While another NHL star Jonathan Toews, commenting on the shocking news for the Toronto Sun, said: “This is the worst summer in the history of hockey.”
"That's horrible. I had many close friends there, I know the families. Just half a year ago, I trained those guys," said Czech specialist Vladimir Vujtek, who led Lokomotiv Yaroslavl to two league titles in 2002 and 2003.