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Former Bruin Brad McCrimmon dies in KHL plane crash

09.07.11 at 2:12 pm ET
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Former Bruins defenseman Brad McCrimmon died in Wednesday’s KHL plane crash in Western Russia. The plane was carrying Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, a KHL team coached by McCrimmon with multiple former NHL players on the roster. If crashed after takeoff at an airport in Tunoshna, according to reports out of Russia. McCrimmon, 52, who played in Boston from 1979-82 and was an assistant coach for the Red Wings the past three seasons before taking the job as head coach with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock confirmed McCrimmon’s death to Detroit media. “I know that Brad was on the flight, but that’s all I know,” Babcock said. “So, obviously, it’s a tough day around here. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.”

Reports indicate the jet crashed into a radar tower just seconds after takeoff and caught fire after hitting the ground, killing 43 of the 45 people on board. The plane carried 37 team members and eight flight staffers. Former NHL players Pavol Demitra, Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins, Josef Vasicek and Ruslan Salei were on the roster.

The agent for forward Alexander Galimov told Sovetsky Sports that his client survived. The other survivor is a member of the flight crew.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on the crash Wednesday, saying that NHL players didn’t need to be involved for it to be a great loss for the game itself.

“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,” Bettman said. “Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished.’€

Dr. Viktor Berezing, from the burn trauma unit of the hospital where the survivors were taken, told Interfax: “Galimov has burns to 80 percent of his body. The crew member has broken bones and lacerations in addition to massive burns.”

The team was headed from Yaroslavl to Minsk to open the season Thursday against Dynamo Minsk.

One report indicated that league president Alexsandr Medvedev interrupted the league’s opening game between Salavat and Atlant during the second period to address the crowd. He announced that all players and staff of the team except for one survivor had perished. The sellout crowd then observed a moment of silence.

According to another report, a Lokomtiv official stated: “At first we didn’t want to believe it. But right now there is no hope. The team is gone.”

McCrimmon, a native of Saskatchewan, played in 1,222 games for six NHL teams from 1979-80 to 1996-97, suiting up for the Bruins, Flyers, Flames, Red Wings, Whalers and Coyotes. He finished with 81 goals, 322 assists and 1,416 penalty minutes. McCrimmon then served as an assistant coach for the Islanders, Flames, Thrashers and Red Wings.

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