Int'l hockey great among plane crash victims
Updated: 2011-09-08 10:43
Combination picture from file photos shows Czech national ice hockey team players Josef Vasicek (L-R), Jan Marek and Karel Rachunek. The three Czech ice hockey world champions were among the victims of a plane disaster that killed dozens north of Moscow on September 7, 2011 officials said. [Photo/Agencies]
Three Czech ice hockey world champions, a Swedish Olympic and world champion and a Slovak great were among the victims of a plane disaster that killed dozens north of Moscow on Wednesday, officials said.
The disaster was feared to have killed 43 people on the charter flight carrying one of Russia's top ice hockey teams, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, form Tunoshna north of Moscow for a Continental Hockey League (KHL) match in the Belarussian capital Minsk.
The three Czechs were Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek, all stars of the national side that won the world championship six times since 1996, the Czech embassy in Moscow said.
"This is a shock; Not only were they excellent hockey players but also great friends and people," said Czech ice hockey association chief Tomas Kral on news website www.idnes.cz.
Slovakia's team captain Pavol Demitra waves good-bye to the audience after their qualifying round game against Denmark at the Ice Hockey World Championships in Bratislava in this May 9, 2011 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
The Slovak foreign ministry said there was one Slovak victim, and that the only Slovak national on the passenger list was Pavol Demitra, a Slovak forward who led the national side at last year's world Championship.
Rachunek, who turned 32 in August, played for Ottawa Senators for three years starting in 1997, and later for New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils. He scored an equaliser against Sweden seven seconds from time in the 2010 world championship semi-finals which the Czechs eventually won.
Marek, 31, had become a popular forward in the KHL, playing initially for Magnitogorsk before joining Yaroslavl.
Vasicek won the Stanley Cup with Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, and scored the final goal in the Czech Republic's 3-0 win against Canada in the world championship final in 2005.
Sweden's national ice hockey team goalkeeper Stefan Liv is pictured in Bern in this April 23, 2009 file photo. [Photo/Agencies]
Swedish ice hockey player Stefan Liv was also among the 43 perished hockey players on Wednesday, the Swedish Embassy in Moscow confirmed to news agency TT.
The 30-year-old national team goalkeeper, an Olympic and world champion in 2006, was killed along with many of his team mates when the plane came down shortly after taking off for a flight to Belarussian capital Minsk. Two passengers survived but were in a grave condition.
"We are in mourning, and our thoughts are with those close to him and his relatives," Swedish Hockey Association chairman Christer Englund said in a statement on the association's website (www.svenskhockey.se).
Liv, who was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 2000, played 133 times for Sweden. He also won three Swedish championships with former club HV71.