Former Blackhawks Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev were among those killed in a plane crash in Western Russia Wednesday that claimed the lives of most of the Lokomotiv hockey team.
Officials said at least 43 people were killed and two others critically injured when the plane carrying Lokomotiv, a Kontinental Hockey League team, crashed just after leaving an airport near the city of Yaroslavl, on the Volga River about 150 miles northeast of Moscow.
Karpovtsev and Korolev were assistant coaches for the team. Other notable losses include Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei and coach Brad McCrimmon.
Demitra, a standout center in the NHL, is a close friend of Hawks winger Marian Hossa. He played for the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild and Vancouver Canucks.
Salei, a defenseman, played for the Anaheim Ducks, Florida Panthers, Colorado Avalanche and, most recently, the Detroit Red Wings. McCrimmon, an assistant coach for the Red Wings last season, played 18 years in the NHL.
"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 said in a statement. "Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."
Karpovtsev, a defenseman, spent four seasons with the Hawks from 2000 to 2004, scoring six goals. Korolev, a center, also was part of the Hawks organization from 2000 to 2004, seeing time in Chicago and with the Norfolk Admirals (the Hawks' former AHL affiliate).
The Hawks released the following statement: "We stand together with the entire KHL, NHL and hockey world in mourning today's tragic news concerning the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team. The tragedy effects the Chicago Blackhawks family directly as we mourn the losses of Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, two players who spent time with our organization and that our fans know well. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl organization."