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Hockey team death shocks sport community, state leaders

September 08, 2011, 12:00 UTC+3

Fans are also mourning

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MOSCOW, September 8 (Itar-Tass) — The death of Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey players, Russians and legionnaires, in the plane crash (only one sportsman survived), has deeply shocked their colleagues and state leaders in many countries.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in a Twitter message late on Wednesday expressed his condolences to the crash victims' relatives. Lokomotiv fans and the entire country are mourning, he said.

Condolence telegrammes are sent to the Yaroslavl Region's Governor Sergei Vakhrukov from leaders of Russian regions.

Among the dead are sportsmen, coachers and accompanying specialists of Lokomotiv, one of Russia's best teams, the country's many-time champion, Tatarstan's President Rustam Minnikhanov noted in his message. Leaders of Tuva, the Trans-Baikal Territory and other regions also sent telegrammes of support.

Foreign state leaders also condole with the Russians over the tragedy. "We express our deepest condolences to the families of those who died near Yaroslavl," a representative of the U.S. Department of State told Itar-Tass. Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in his letter to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin expressed deep sympathy for the victims' families. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski asked to convey his words' of deep sympathy to relatives of the victims and wishes for soonest recovery to the injured people.

The news about the death of the whole team became shocking for the entire hockey community of the world.

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that though it happened thousands of miles away from their stadiums, the tragedy became a catastrophic loss for the entire hockey world, including the NHL family, which has lost fathers, sons, fellow team players and friends, who once brilliantly performed in the league.

The league site also publishes the words of grief expressed by leaders of NHL clubs. The tragedy that happened near Yaroslavl has touched the entire hockey family, U.S. hockey representative Dave Fischer noted. The news about the tragic death of players and coachers of Yaroslavl's Lokomotiv shocked all, Canadian Hockey Association President Bob Nicholson said.

Players, first of all Russian legionnaires in NHL clubs also express their grief feelings. The plane crash is a national tragedy, Washington Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin said. New York Islanders' Yevgeny Nabokov noted he knew most of the players. "I am shocked and do not want to believe that it happened," he said. Alexei Yashin, who for some years played for Islanders and then was in Lokomotiv for several seasons, said many of the people aboard the plane were his friends.

Fans are also mourning. In central Riga, hundreds of people marched from the Ice Hall to the Latvian Hockey Federation in memory of Latvian player Karlis Skrastins who died in the crash. Hundreds of people came with lit candles and flowers to the sport centre Kinnarps Arena in Jonkoping in central Sweden, where goalkeeper Stefan Liv was born and became a great sportsman in a hockey club. He died together with the Lokomotiv team.

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