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In wake of tragedy, KHL takes 5-day hiatus

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 8:50 AM / News

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In wake of tragedy, KHL takes 5-day hiatus
According to reports, the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team decimated in Wednesday's plane crash will be rebuilt immediately to take part in this year's Kontinental Hockey League season.

All but one of the 28 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl players traveling to Belarus for their first game of the season against Dynamo Minsk were killed when their Yak-42 jet crashed on takeoff Wednesday in Yaroslavl, a city about 150 miles from Moscow.

KHL president Alexander Medvedev said Thursday that he will ask each KHL team to volunteer up to three players each toward a draft pool for the new Lokomotiv team. Such a move would give Lokomotiv 40 to 45 players from which to choose a new roster.

Lokomotiv would also promote a handful of players from its youth team to be part of its senior team.

"The 18 KHL clubs whose representatives I have managed to speak with have supported this proposal," Medvedev said in remarks to Atlant Mytischi hockey club's press service, according to an Associated Press report.

The KHL has 24 clubs spread throughout Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.

According to several reports out of Russia, Lokomotiv has already tabbed Pyotr Vorobyov as the new coach. Vorobyov was coaching the Lokomotiv junior team and also coached the senior team to its 1997 Russian SuperLeague championship.

Among those killed in Wednesday's crash were Lokomotiv coach and NHL veteran Brad McCrimmon, who left his NHL assistant coaching job with Detroit this spring to take over Lokomotiv; Alexander Karpovtsev, one of the first Russians to have his name etched on the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers; and Pavol Demitra, the Slovakian national team captain, who played in the NHL with St. Louis and Vancouver.

Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenseman Karlis Skrastins and defenseman Ruslan Salei of Belarus were also killed in the crash.

Russian officials say Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember. Galimov's condition is said to be critical as both he and the surviving crew member were moved to a hospital facility in Moscow. Galimov reportedly has burns across 80 percent of his body.

A memorial ceremony for victims of the crash is planned for Saturday at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's arena. Fans gathered outside the arena Wednesday night to mourn and were addressed by Sergei Vakhrukov, the Yaroslavl governor.

The KHL games planned for the weekend have been postponed. Games will resume Sept. 13, the KHL said in a statement on its website. It is unclear when Lokomotiv will play its first game.
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It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threatening illness