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Former Mighty Duck Ruslan Salei Killed in KHL Plane Crash

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JEN:

2011 continues to be a year of tragedy for the NHL. This morning, Puck Daddy and several news outlets confirmed the plane crash of a charter jet carrying the KHL team Lokomotiv. The story is still developing; however, Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy is reporting that the jet was carrying the entire roster plus the flight crew. There are reports of two survivors, a member of the flight crew and one player - Alexander Gaminov. Gaminov is said to be in critical condition, in a medically induced coma, with burns over 80% of his body.

The jet was carrying former Detroit Red Wings assistant coach (Lokomotiv's head coach) Brad McCrimmon, and former NHL players: Karel Rachunek, Karlis Skrastins (with Dallas last season), Josef Vasicek, Alexander Vasyunov (with Devils last season), Pavol Demitra, and former Mighty Duck, Ruslan Salei (with Detroit last season).

Ruslan Salei was a Mighty Duck from 1996 to 2006. Rusty, as he was known to teammates and fans, was a fan favorite for many years. His joyful off ice interactions with fans will never be forgotten. Occasionally during broadcasts, play-by-play announcer John Alhers refers to Honda Center as "The House that Rusty Built". He was that much of an institution in Anaheim. There were rumors last off-season that Rusty would be making a come back in Anaheim for the twilight of his career, but he opted for Detroit instead.

UPDATE: Eric Stephens of the OC Register is reporting Salei's agent confirms Ruslan's brother spoke to the player before he boarded the plane with the team.

UPDATE 2: Ducks issue statement on the passing of Ruslan Salei.

As a tribute to Ruslan, please post your memories of him in the thread. The best way to memorialize someone we lost is to celebrate the memories we have.