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Posted at 12:15 PM ET, 09/07/2011

Alex Ovechkin: Russian plane crash a ‘whole national tragedy’

As details continue to emerge about the Russian plane crash that killed at least 43 people, including most members of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, Capitals players expressed their shock and sadness.

Alex Ovechkin was noticably shaken when he spoke with reporters after a short workout at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. He was friends with Alexander Galimov, the lone player to survive the initial crash. Early reports indicated he died in a hospital after suffering severe burns over most of his body, but that has yet to be confirmed.

“I played with him when I was a little kid and again on national team, junior,” said Ovechkin, who was a teammate of Galimov’s in the 2005 World Junior Championships. “It’s kind of a scary moment. A whole national tragedy.”

Ovechkin found out from a friend just as he took to the ice this morning and immediately looked to verify reports and tell his fellow countrymen the news.

“I go to the internet see it’s true or not. It’s scary. I don’t know what to say,” Ovechkin said.

Tomas Vokoun, a Czech native, was distraught after hearing the news of the plane crash because one of his close friends was aboard the aircraft. Vokoun asked to not speak with reporters, according to a team spokesman. The veteran goaltender played parts of seven seasons in Nashville and Florida with former NHLer Karlis Skrastins, who was believed to be aboard the flight.

Capitals prospect Stanislav Galiev was also in shock as he expressed his disbelief and sadness about the crash.

“I’m shocked; it’s very sad. I had a couple good friends there from World Junior team, I played with them,” said Galiev, who said he knew Sergei Ostapchuk, Yuri Urychev and Daniil Sobchenko well. “You know travel every day [as an athlete]. You don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, it’s just life.”

Update: Below is NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman’s statement on the crash:

"Though it occurred thousands of miles away from our home arenas, this tragedy represents a catastrophic loss to the hockey world -- including the NHL family, which lost so many fathers, sons, teammates and friends who at one time excelled in our League. Our deepest condolences go to the families and loved ones of all who perished."

By  |  12:15 PM ET, 09/07/2011

 
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