September 07, 2011
Let's be clear here: After the plane crash that killed nearly "everyone from the main roster" of the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, the primary focus from the hockey world is on remembering those who lost their lives and offering condolences to friends and loved ones.
But we're probably not the only ones wondering how the Kontinental Hockey League will handle this tragedy logistically. It's cold, business of hockey stuff; but it's part of the story, and the League acknowledged that in a statement on Wednesday morning:
On Wednesday, September 7, the sport of hockey witnessed a devastating loss. A YK-42 plane that was carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team to its first game of the 2011/2012 Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) season in Minsk, crashed while departing from Yaroslavl.
KHL statement regarding today's tragedy in Yaroslavl:
"We are only beginning to understand the impact of this tragedy affecting the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl club and the international hockey community. First and foremost, our condolences go out to the families and friends of the players, coaches and staff lost in today's tragedy.
"We know that there are many in the KHL family who will be grieving with us. As the investigation of this tragedy progresses we will work closely with investigators, government officials, club executives and the Yaroslavl community. We are working to find an appropriate way to honor this club and begin the healing process from the deep loss so many of us feel today.
"We are aware that many of you have questions. This tragedy remains our primary focus. We ask for patience as we find an appropriate way to proceed with the 2011/2012 season. We will continue to communicate our plans as they take shape."
The KHL faces an inconceivable decision: How to proceed with a season when one of its franchises lost its entire roster to tragedy.
Will games be cancelled? The KHL current plans on holding the three games scheduled for Thursday while cancelling Lokomotiv vs. Dynamo Minsk. On the schedule: Avangard vs. Sibir; Yugra vs. Avtomobilist; and CSKA vs. Mettalurg Magnitogorsk.
Via Puck Daddy's Dmitry Chesnokov:
Even though the games are to go on, the KHL will hold "minutes of silence" tomorrow and all "entertainment" activities at games have been canceled.
The decision of whether Lokomotiv will participate in this year's tournament will be made at a later date.
The KHL will also decide later what to do with the Salavat Yulaev - Atlant game that was played and halted today
I was told the League is reviewing several options as far as how they will proceed. He didn't disclose what the options were.
The reason everything is remaining the same as far as scheduling etc is because the League wants everyone (every official) to get together to decide what the next steps will be. The KHL says there is a lot of conflicting and untrue information online as far as what this regular season will be. So, they will get together to discuss the next steps, they want everyone there, as cool headed as they could possibly be. The KHL didn't want to make any rush decisions, want to think things through.
The reason the KHL management is all over the country is because today is the start of the season.
It is unclear if the KHL has a contingency plan at this point.
Who will play for Lokomotiv this season? Should Lokomotiv play this season? Slava Malamud of Sports-Express offered this bit of information: "Legendary coach Viktor Tikhonov(notes) suggests every KHL team send at least one player to Lokomotiv to salvage the team's season."
If a team is left with fewer than 14 players and one goaltender following some sort of catastrophe, the league sets in motion its Emergency Rehabilitation Plan.
First, the "disabled team" would be allowed to negotiate to buy players under contract from other teams, with payment coming from the insurance money.
If that didn't fill out the roster, a draft would be held, much like an expansion draft. Teams could protect 10 players and one goalie.
The disabled team would be allowed to take no more than one player from each of the other teams. The price for each player is $1 million in insurance money.
Obviously, there are ways to approach this type of tragedy.
One thing we'd like to see: Something from the NHL to honor the memory of their alumni, whether it's a patch or a sticker on the uniform or a league-wide moment of silence on opening night.
Other popular stories on Yahoo! Sports:
• Report: Lokomotiv player survives KHL team plane crash
• Jaguars risk blowing huge opportunity with startling move
• City of Vancouver blames NHL for Stanley Cup riots