Terrible news comes out of Russia this morning:
The opening of the KHL's fourth season has been marred after a passenger jet carrying members of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team crashed near the Yaroslavl airport.
On the first day of the new KHL season Russian ice hockey fans were shocked by the news of the tragedy, which took the lives of one of the league's favorites, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl.
There are three former members of the Nashville Predators family on the Lokomotiv roster, including former players Karlis Skrastins, and Josef Vasicek, along with Robert Dietrich, who played two years in Milwaukee. The team was coached by former NHL defenseman Brad McCrimmon, and includes other NHL players like Pavol Demitra and Ruslan Salei.
Peter Adler with the Edmonton Journal has posted a list of people on board the plane, which includes all three with Preds ties noted above.
This story is obviously developing throughout the day, with the Globe & Mail citing a figure of 43 dead at this point.
The KHL issued the following statement:
On Wednesday, September 7th, the sport of hockey witnessed a devastating loss. A YK-42 plane that was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team to its first game of the 2011/2012 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season in Minsk, crashed while departing from Yaroslavl.
KHL statement regarding today's tragedy in Yaroslavl:
"We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club and the international hockey community. First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today's tragedy.
"We know that there are many in the KHL family who will be grieving with us. As the investigation of this tragedy progresses we will work closely with investigators, government officials, club executives and the Yaroslavl community. We are working to find an appropriate way to honor this club and begin the healing process from the deep loss so many of us feel today.
"We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape."