A plane crash near the city of Yaroslavl in Central Russia has claimed the lives of at least 36 people. Some reports have the death total at 42. The majority of victims are believed to be members of the Kontinental Hockey League club, Lokomotiv.
The crash occurred at 12 noon Moscow time.
Eight crew members are also among the dead, according to reports. According to Russian aviation officials, two passengers survived the crash, but are in critical condition.
According to Sov Sport, Locomotiv has confirmed that the entire main roster, plus four players from the youth team, were on the plane.
The Locomotiv roster was full of players with NHL ties.
The team's head coach, Brad McCrimmon, played in the NHL and most recently served as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings before taking the Yaroslavl job in May. Defenseman Karel Rachunek, Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins, as well as forwards Pavol Demitra and Josef Vasicek all spent a good deal of time in the NHL. Forward Alexander Vasyunov played a handful of games with the New Jersey Devils last season.
According to the reports on the crash, the plane, a Yakovlev Yak-42 passenger jet, went down and caught fire shortly immediately after taking to the air, crashing less than 2 kilometers from the airport.
It was en route to Minsk, Belarus for a Thursday night game against Dynamo Minsk.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry said the crashed immediately after taking off from an airport near the city on the Volga River, which is approximately 150 miles northeast of Moscow.
The KHL season opened Wednesday with a game between Ufa and Atlant, but that game was suspended as soon as news of the tragedy broke.
Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, founded in 1949 as the team of the Railways Ministry, is one of Russia's leading hockey teams and came runner up in the Kontinental Hockey League in 2008 and 2009. In 1997 it took the Russian Superleague title and won back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003.