September 08, 2011
Following a plane crash that killed most of its Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team, the Kontinental Hockey League has announced that it's postponing the start of its 2011-12 season, as decided by president Alexander Medvedev and the chairman of the board of directors Vyacheslav Fetisov.
The season is now set to begin on Sept. 12, two days after a ceremony at Arena-2000-Lokomotiv stadium that will memorialize the players killed in Wednesday's tragedy. KHL TV will have coverage of that event, and will "only be showing games featuring Lokomotiv until the start of the new season" as a tribute to the team.
Via Bruce Peter at Puck Worlds, here's a glimpse at the future of Lokomotiv for this season:
Lokomotiv will play in 2011-12. The makeup of the team is still yet to be determined, but it looks like it will be made up of players on loan from other clubs, free agents, and players who were on the team's MHL and VHL affiliates. Reports are that around 30 current KHL players have already volunteered to play for Yaroslavl this season.
In the meantime, Lokomotiv has a new head coach. Pyotor Vorobyev, who coached Yaroslavl in their late 1990s heyday and was with their MHL club, will be taking over the coaching duties for the 2011-12 season.
Dmitry Chesnokov, who will have more on the KHL's reaction to the tragedy later today on Puck Daddy, reports that KHL President Medvedev said "Lokomotiv will be made up of the team alumni playing elsewhere and free agents still available."
(An aside: If Lokomotiv ends up competing this season, and it appears it will, this is shaping up to be one of the most inspiring underdog stories in sports history. Who isn't rooting for these players to honor the fallen in victory? Who isn't tearing up the moment they go to center ice and raise their sticks to the heavens in tribute?)
Meanwhile, tributes to the players who lost their lives in the plane crash on Wednesday are being created by fans across the globe. Click here for a Karlis Skrastins tribute in Latvia. At the top of the post (via @JRDomination) is a Pavol Demitra(notes) memorial in Trencin, Slovakia; and here's a Demitra memorial from Rogers Arena in Vancouver, which Bucky Hermit says is located next to the one for Rick Rypien(notes):