On Saturday, tens of thousands of mourners paid their respects to those lost in the tragic plane crash in Russia on Wednesday that took the lives of 43 people, including members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team. The overflow of people meant that the ceremony was extended until 2 p.m. local time. The ceremony was held inside Arena-2000, Lokomotiv's home.
After the memorial service, team executives announced that despite various ideas on trying to salvage the club for the season, they will not play in the KHL this year.
From Russia Today:
"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," [Club President Yury] Yakovlev stressed, adding, "This will take some time as well as requiring human resources. But we are determined to resume participation in the KHL in 2012."
The President of Russian Railroads, Lokomotiv's main sponsor, confirmed the position:
"All words of grief can in no way be compared to what's going on inside the souls of the relatives of the deceased. Right now there is a unity of the community and I am thankful to Yaroslav residents for their love to the team. The club will definitely be reuilt. But Lokomotiv is not just players and hockey sticks, but also the spirit. And we have to approach the rebuild of this spirit with care. We will do everything possible to do it and we will show ourselves in the 2012-2013 season."
There was discussion of having each KHL team loan players so that Lokomotiv could field a team for the season -- with a number of players stepping forward open to the idea -- but focus will now be on providing support to the relatives of the victims and begin the rebuilding process with an eye on the 2012-13 campaign.
Lokomotiv's youth team will play on this season in honor of the senior members of the club.
Via Dmitry, here is the patch that every KHL team will wear to commemorate their fallen Lokomotiv brothers:
The KHL followed that news announcing that going forward the opening game of the season between the Gagarin Cup champions and runners-up will be for the Lokomotiv Cup. On Monday, Salavat Yulaev and Atlant -- who were playing at the time of the crash before the game was abandoned -- will play for the first Lokomotiv Cup.
With additional reporting by Dmitry Chesnokov