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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The agent for former Minnesota Wild forward Pavol Demitra has confirmed to NHL.com that Demitra was among the people killed in a plane crash in Russia.
A Russian jet carrying Kontinental Hockey League team Lokomotiv crashed while taking off Wednesday, killing at least 43 people and leaving two others critically injured, officials said. It was one of the worst plane crashes ever involving a sports team. [Click here to read more about the crash.]
The Russian team also featured several top European players and former NHL stars, including Demitra, a Slovakian forward and national team captain, who in addition to playing for the Wild, played in the NHL for the St. Louis Blues, Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks.
Demitra was acquired by the Wild in 2006, partly because he was good friends with former Wild star Marian Gaborik. Wild broadcaster Tom Reid said it will no doubt be tough for his long-time friend.
“Those two players had a connection,” Reid said. “I’m sure that (Gaborik) is extremely upset because they were very, very close.”
Demitra, 36, is a three-time NHL All-Star. He was drafted in 1993 in the ninth round to play for the Ottawa Senators. He last played in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009-10 season. The Slovakian standout led Lokomotiv in scoring last season.
In a statement, the Wild organization says it joins “the rest of the hockey world in mourning the tragedy” that killed at least 43 people.
Demitra was acquired by the Wild in a draft-day trade with Los Angeles in 2006. He had 40 goals and 78 assists over two seasons and helped the Wild make the playoffs both years.
Demitra is the second ex-Wild player to die recently. Derek Boogaard died last May of an accidental mix of alcohol and painkiller.
Other top names on the team include Russian defensemen Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins, and Swedish goalie Stefan Liv.