December 12, 2011
The flood of Year in Review materials is going to hit the hockey media shortly, which means the tragic tale of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl will be revisited: The plane crash that killed the team, the aftermath of the lives lost and the remembrances from around the world.
Three months after the crash, another chapter has been added to that tale: The rebirth of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team.
"A hastily assembled squad of youth players from Lokomotiv and loans from other clubs," the team debuted in the VHL on Monday evening against Neftyanik Almetyevsk in Yaroslavl. The VHL is the top tier minor league of the KHL, where there's already a guarantee in place that Lokomotiv will return next season. According to Russian media, 9,000 tickets were sold out in four hours for the game.
Lokomotiv won in its debut, 5-1. From Russia Today:
Speaking to the Sport-Express paper ahead of the debut game, the club's president, Yury Yakovlev, outlined the team's goals in the coming seasons. "I don't know what the team will look like in the VHL since it's a new league for us. But I'm sure the team will progress from game to game. We set only one goal for this season — to try to win every single game," Yakovlev stressed.
The club rejected the league's offer to get a guaranteed playoff spot this season. "We don't need such a gift," said Yakovlev. "We want to win this berth. Nothing should be given for granted in sport. The players should feel the responsibility for the final result starting from the very first game."
Vladimir Malkov of Lokomotiv told Voice of Russia that these young players will have a chance to compete in the KHL next season, but that "the backbone of the team that will play in the Continental Hockey League next season, as it appears will be formed next summer."
Here's a KHL remembrance of the Lokomotiv tragedy as the reborn team begins play:
Photo via RIA Novosti.