KHL postpones start of season
|Players of Salavat Yulaev Ufa (R) and Atlant from Moscow region observe a minute of silence during their stopped Continental Hockey League (KHL) opening match in Ufa September 7, 2011. (REUTERS/Fotoagentstvo KHL/Handout)
YAROSLAVL, RUSSIA - Following Wednesday's fatal crash of an airplane carrying members of Russian hockey team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, the Kontinental Hockey League has delayed the start of its season.
The KHL said that president Alexander Medvedev and chairperson Vyacheslav Fetisov decided Thursday morning to postpone the opening games. The season will start on September 12, two days after a memorial ceremony is held at Yaroslavl's arena.
The crash occurred just after a Yak-42 plane took off from an airport near the city of Yaroslavl on the Volga River, according to the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry. A total of 45 people were on board, including 37 passengers and eight crew members.
The KHL confirmed players and staff of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl were on board. The team was flying to Minsk, Belarus, to open the season Thursday against Dinamo Minsk.
Newly appointed head coach Brad McCrimmon, a former NHL defenseman and assistant coach, was among those killed, as were recent NHL players Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei, Karel Rachunek, Josef Vasicek, Karlis Skrastins and Alexander Vasyunov.
Rt.com, an English-speaking Russian news outlet, has reported that two people survived the crash. One, according to the report, is a crew member and the other is team member Aleksandr Galimov. Both have been hospitalized with severe burns.
According to a Thursday report from Rt.com, Medvedev said he will strive to keep Lokomotiv Yaroslavl competitive. He said league teams are willing to send their best players to create a new Yaroslavl club, the report said.
Reports indicate about three dozen KHL players are interested in joining the Yaroslavl club.