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Lokomotiv could return this season at lower level

NHL.com @NHL
While the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv team that was wiped out in a plane crash last week will not return to play in the Kontinental Hockey League for the 2011-12 season, plans could be made to re-form the team this season at a lower level as part of a gradual build back to the top league in Russia.

According to a report on TSN's website, Lokomotiv President Yury Yakovlyev said the team could begin playing again in December in the Major Hockey League, which is the second tier of Russian hockey.

As part of the potential deal, Lokomotiv would be eligible to compete in the playoffs regardless of where it finishes in the MHL standings.

Earlier talks had centered on Lokomotiv re-forming to play this season, with players taken from other KHL clubs as well junior players being promoted from Lokomotiv's junior team. Pyotr Vorobyev, the junior team's coach, would be the re-built KHL team's coach.

However, it appears those plans have been shelved for a more gradual rebuild.

"At a meeting with the president, we arrived at the conclusion that we must support those decisions taken by the club," Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said Monday after a high-level discussion on plans for Lokomotiv chaired by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

The first step, according to the TSN report, will be transferring the team to the Major Hockey League. After that, youth players from other clubs will be permitted to transfer to Lokomotiv, Mutko said.

Yakovlyev said Lokomotiv's farm team of young and up-and-coming players would be used as the base on which to create a new squad. He added that before next season, Lokomotiv would seek to attract players with expired contracts and have the quota for foreign players increased to six -- one more than for other teams.

Last Wednesday's crash in central Russia took the lives of 28 players, two coaches and seven other team staff members. Of the 45 people on board, including crew, 43 were killed in the crash. One player and one crew member survived, but the lone player, Alexander Galimov, died Monday of his injuries.
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