McCrimmon, 52, was a Detroit assistant coach for the past three seasons. He was a defenseman who played 18 seasons (1979-1997) in the NHL, including three with Detroit (1990-93). McCrimmon also played with the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers, Calgary Flames, Hartford Whalers and Phoenix Coyotes.
"I've known him a long time. He was my defense partner when I was a rookie (1991-92)," Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom said about McCrimmon, who was hired in May as Lokomotiv's head coach. "The defensemen learned a lot from him. . We all wished him well when we heard he was leaving."
Lidstrom said he benefited from playing alongside McCrimmon.
"He was more of a stay-at-home defenseman, letting me get involved with the offense," Lidstrom said.
"He also protected me at certain times when things got heated."
Mark Howe, who was McCrimmon's teammate and defense partner in Philadelphia from 1982-83 to 1986-87 and teammate in Detroit in 1992-93, remembered his friend's "honesty and integrity."
"If he said he was going to do something, it was rock solid. He was a great husband and a great father . and I know he loved playing hockey."
When he heard about the crash this morning, Detroit coach Mike Babcock said he and his wife went to the McCrimmon family's home in suburban Detroit, but nobody was there. Babcock, who along with Lidstrom spoke to the media at Joe Louis Arena after the team's informal skate, said he was going home to pick up his wife before heading once again to McCrimmon's home.
Babcock later said he was able to visit with McCrimmon's wife, who has two children.
"It's just so sad that their lives have suddenly changed forever, and now they've got no dad or husband," Babcock said. "It just goes to show that you can't miss out on doing stuff with your family because change can come in an instant."
Babcock said McCrimmon "wanted to be a head coach, so he went to Russia to do it. He had just won an exhibition tournament and was jacked up about the regular season."
Salei, who played with Detroit last season, signed with Lokomotiv shortly after McCrimmon became the head coach.
"Rusty was a team player for us and played well." Lidstrom said.
Liv, a goalie, was a Detroit draft choice who played for the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids and the Toledo Storm of the East Coast Hockey League in 2006-07. He and Lidstrom were teammates on the 2006 Swedish Olympic team.
The Yak-42 plane crashed into the shores of the Volga River immediately after leaving the airport near Yaroslavl. It was sunny at the time.
Russian television showed footage of the flaming wreck in the river as divers worked to recover bodies.
Lidstrom called it "a tragedy for the hockey world."