Yaroslavl Lokomotiv president Yury Yakovlev announced Saturday the team will not participate in the Kontinental Hockey League during the 2011-12 season.
Thirty-six members of the organization died Wednesday after the plane that was to take them Minsk, Belarus, for the opening game of the KHL campaign, died shortly after takeoff.
"The main priority now is to take care of the relatives and to pay last tribute to the late players and staff. The other aim is to re-build a competitive team," Yakovlev said, according to Russia Today. "This will take some time as well as requiring human resources. But we are determined to resume participation in the KHL in [2012-13]."
Yakovlev, Yaroslavl Region Governor Sergey Vakhrukov and Russian Railways President Vladimir Yakunin met Saturday to determine the immediate future of the senior team. KHL chairman Vyacheslav Fetisov had previously said Pyotr Vorobyev, who recently was the coach of Lokomotiv's youth team and had helped the club to its first championship in the old Russian Super League, would become the new head coach and KHL president Alexander Medvedev had vowed that Lokomotiv would be able to compete this season with a roster made of players loaned from other teams in the league.
The KHL announced Saturday that the league's season-opening contest will now be called the Lokomotiv Cup to honor those who died in the crash.
It was reported that more than 30 players from around the league had volunteered to play for Lokomotiv this season. The Lokomotiv youth team will play on this season.
"I have a strong desire to win the [KHL's] Gagarin Cup now, to win the youth championship and dedicate the victory to my friends, who died," said Kirill Kapustin, a Lokomotiv youth team player, to Russia Today.
Added teammate Mark Solyankin-Pasternak: "The coach told us that we should go out on to the ice and play for all the guys who lost their lives in this crash. He told us to win for them. We need to play our best."
We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.
— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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