Former NHL defenseman Karel Rachunek
had a long history with the Lokomotiv Yaroslaval team, dating back to before its days in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Rachunek, who died Wednesday at the age of 32 when the plane carrying the Lokomotiv team crashed shortly after takeoff near the city of Yaroslaval in Central Russia, was listed as captain on the roster for the 2011-12 season.
KHL LOKOMOTIV CRASH COVERAGE
A ninth-round pick of the Ottawa Senators
in the 1997 Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound Rachunek played parts of seven NHL seasons for the Senators, New York Rangers
and New Jersey Devils
, but had some of his most successful years playing in Russia. He was coming off a career-best 11-goal, 46-point season for Lokomotiv in his third stint with the club.
"Nothing could prepare the hockey community for the devastating news it received today. The tragic plane crash involving Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League has left all of us beyond words," Devils GM Lou Lamoriello said in a statement. "I had the pleasure of knowing several members of the team, plus the entire coaching staff. In particular, Alexander Vasyunov
, who played for us last season, was an outstanding young man and a gifted athlete. Captain Karel Rachunek
skated for us in 2007-08. Both were members of the Devils family. On behalf of the entire Devils organization, our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the entire Lokomotiv club."
Rachunek first scored 3 goals in nine games for Lokomotiv during the 2002-03 season when it competed in the Russian Superleague. It was a brief stint, however, as Rachunek's NHL career with the Senators was beginning to develop at the time. Rachunek played in 240 games for Ottawa from 2000-04 as well as 29 playoff games, including a run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals in 2003.
During the League's work stoppage in 2004-05, Rachunek played briefly in the Czech Republic before returning to Russia and dressing in 74 games for Lokomotiv over the course of the next two seasons. He finished with 11 goals, 31 points and a plus-14 rating in the 2005-06 season.
Rachunek was back in the NHL the following season with the Rangers, who had acquired him in a trade with the Senators near the end of the 2003-04 campaign. He put up 6 goals and 26 points in 66 games, his best numbers in North America, and played one more season in the League with the Devils. For his career, Rachunek totaled 22 goals and 140 points in 371 games.
With the creation of the KHL, Rachunek returned to Russia for the 2008-09 season with Dynamo Moscow, where he recorded 19 goals and 56 points in 102 games over the following two seasons before reuniting with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl for another go-around.