Ice-hockey plane crash victims laid to rest

The bodies of 14 of the ice-hockey players who died in a plane crash on September 7 were buried on Saturday in Yaroslavl.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl’s chartered jet crashed on take-off near the Volga city of Yaroslavl as the team were heading to the Belarusian capital of Minsk.

Thirty-six players and officials died in the crash, along with seven crew.

The funerals took place after a memorial ceremony at the club’s arena. Police barred entry to the cemetery to anyone but relatives and close friends.

“Fans will have a chance to visit the graves later,” a police official said. “We don’t want the relatives to be disturbed during the funerals.”

The funeral of Lokomotiv defender Ruslan Salei also took place on Saturday in his home city of Minsk, the capital of Belarus. Salei played 14 seasons in the NHL, before joining Lokomotiv in July.

Russian national side player Alexander Galimov and crew-member Alexander Sizov survived the crash. Both remain in serious conditions.

Lokomotiv president Yury Yakovlev announced on Saturday that the team would miss the 2011/2012 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

“We should rebuild the team, there’s no doubt about that,” Yakovlev said. “But to that end, we need time and people.”

The Lokomotiv roster included players and coaches from 10 countries, including the team’s Canadian coach, Brad McCrimmon and Swedish Olympic champion goalie Stefan Liv.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, founded in 1949 as the team of the Railways Ministry, is one of Russia’s leading hockey teams and came runner up in the nascent KHL in 2008 and 2009. In 1997 it took the Russian Superleague title and won back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003.

International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel called the crash “the darkest day in the history of our sport.”

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