Russian president urges revival of Lokomotiv ice hockey team

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday pledged state support for the revival of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the hockey team that was virtually wiped out in a plane crash last week.

Lokomotiv’s chartered Yak-42 crashed just after takeoff on Wednesday as the team was 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 state will do everything to support the club, the traditions that were formed in the past few years and created such a brilliant group of players,” Medvedev said at a meeting of Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) officials.

“We must decide how to revive the club and how to do it with due respect and effectively at the same time,” the president added.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Monday that Lokomotiv would miss the entire 2011-2012 season because it would take a year to rebuild the team from “farm” players and invitees from other hockey clubs.

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. It was one of the favorites for current KHL season.

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