KHL: League to begin Tuesday, Lokomotiv to be ‘revived’

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will be “revived” and take part in this year’s Kontinental Hockey League championship after the entire team and coaching staff were killed in a plane crash, the league’s president Alexander Medvedev was quoted as saying on Thursday.

Lokomotiv’s chartered Yak-42 crashed just after takeoff on Wednesday as the team were heading to Minsk for their season opener against Dinamo Minsk. Forty-three people were killed including a slew of former NHL stars and future draft prospects.

The accident occurred on the first day of the season, interrupting the opening match between Saralat Yulayev and Atlant in the city of Ufa, which was subsequently called off.

Medvedev was quoted by Atlant’s press service as saying that the “start will most likely be on Tuesday” and the 20 or so games that were to have taken place in the meantime will be rescheduled.

Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will be rebuilt by 18 KHL teams that have offered two or three players each, Medvedev said.

“The new Lokomotiv coach will have a list of 40-45 players, and he will be able to pick a good team. Additionally, Lokomotiv will feature five young players from the youth team. … The Yaroslavl team will be revived,” he said.

A source close to Lokomotiv earlier told RIA Novosti that at least 30 players from other clubs have volunteered to represent the club, most being former Lokomotiv players or Yaroslavl natives.

An official explanation for the crash is yet to be given, although an aviation industry source told RIA Novosti that poor quality fuel may have hampered the jet’s ability to build up enough speed on the runway.

There were two survivors, Russian player Alexander Galimov and one of the eight crew members on board. Both are in critical condition. Galimov has burns to 90 percent of his body, a hospital official said.

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

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 Kontinental Hockey League in 2008 and 2009. In 1997 it took the Russian Superleague title and won back-to-back championships in 2002 and 2003. It was one of the favorites for this year’s Kontinental Hockey League.

Wednesday’s crash came 32 years after 17 players from the Soviet football club Pakhtakor were killed as the team was flying to a match, also in Minsk.

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