Ex-NY NHL players die in crash
Alexander Vasyunov, who played 18 games for the New Jersey Devils last season, was among the hockey players with New York ties who were killed in a plane crash in Russia on Wednesday, Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello confirmed to ESPNNewYork.com.
Vasyunov was 23.
“I don’t think anybody can prepare for something like this,” Lamoriello said. “It’s just devastating news. Words can’t express my personal feelings.”
A Czech embassy official has also confirmed the deaths of Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek, Czech players who were aboard the plane. Rachunek played for the Devils and New York Rangers, and Vasicek last played in the NHL for the New York Islanders.
Vasyunov left the Devils in the offseason to sign with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The KHL team was flying to Minsk, the capital of Belarus, to take on Dimamo Minsk on Thursdsay night in their season opener. But the plane carrying the team crashed into a river bank while taking off in western Russia, killing at least 43 and leaving two others injured, officials said, according to the Associated Press.
“I can’t say enough about him as a young man,” Lamoriello said of Vasyunov. “He certainly had talent. His whole career was in front of him.”
Vasyunov compiled one goal and four assists for the Devils last season. A left winger, he was selected by the team in the second round (No. 58 overall) of the 2006 NHL draft.
Rachunek, a defenseman, appeared in 47 games with New Jersey in 2007-08, compiling four goals and nine assists. He also played with the Rangers in parts of the 2003-04 and 2006-07 seasons, compiling seven goals and 23 assists in 78 games.
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