CORRECTED: Ice Hockey: Russians rally round tragedy-hit Yaroslavl

8th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian ice hockey league chief Vyacheslav Fetisov said on Thursday he is hopeful clubs will rally round in support of stricken Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after their squad was decimated in Wednesday's air crash.

The start of Russia's ice hockey league season was postponed in the wake of the tragedy, which killed 43 people including members of the three-time Russian champions as they travelled to their first match of the season.

Fetisov said he believed the club would be able to get a team together "in the next two to three days" and bounce back from the tragedy while KHL (Continental Hockey League) president Alexander Medvedev said the new season will likely start on Tuesday.

Fetisov said players from around the league have offered to help Lokomotiv by offering to make players available for the club.

"The new Lokomotiv team will be formed within the next two or three days," said Fetisov, the most decorated hockey player in Russian history.

"They will play in the new KHL season."

He added: "Many of the league's players said right after the tragedy they were ready to support Lokomotiv and play for Yaroslavl in the new season. At least 30 players have already expressed their desire to play there.

"This says a lot about players' solidarity and the tremendous traditions of our hockey.

"Everyone knows that this is the most important sport" in Yaroslav, added Fetisov.

"Lokomotiv simply must play again to commemorate the dead," he added as thousands of fans gathered to turn Lokomotiv's arena into a shrine, placing roses and team scarves at the venue.

Fetisov said the league would be working out a solution to allow players to transfer from other clubs, although players from Lokomotiv's youth squad could also be called upon.

Medvedev said: "The new season will likely start on Tuesday. The matches that have been postponed will be played during the breaks in the league calendar."

Seven foreign players, including Swedish Olympic champion Stefan Liv, were among the 44 people killed in Wednesday's disaster.

The Russian charter flight also claimed the lives of Slovakia's Pavol Demitra, Czechs Josef Vasicek, Jan Marek and Karel Rachunek along with German defender Robert Dietrich and Latvian star Karlis Skrastins.

Lokomotiv's Canadian coach Brad McCrimmon also died in the crash which occurred when a Russian jet crashed on takeoff at an airport outside the central city of Yaroslavl.

Yaroslavl player Alexander Galimov and one of the plane's crew members survived the accident. Reports however said that Galimov had suffered 80 percent burns.

Belarus international Ruslan Salei, a recent signing from the NHL's Detroit Red Wings, was also listed as one of the travelling players despite initial reports that he was awaiting the team's arrival in Minsk.

© 2011 AFP

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