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KHL chief vows to rebuild Russian hockey team decimated by plane disaster that killed 43
MOSCOW (AP) ' The Russian ice hockey team decimated by a plane crash will be rebuilt in time to take part in this year's Kontinental Hockey League season.
All but one of the 28 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl players traveling to Belarus for their first game of the season was killed when their Yak-42 jet crashed on Wednesday.
KHL chief Alexander Medvedev said Thursday that each team in the league should volunteer up to three players each toward building a new Lokomotiv squad. He says that will free up between 40 and 45 players from which Lokomotiv can pick.
"The 18 KHL clubs whose representatives I have managed to speak with have supported this proposal," Medvedev said in remarks to Atlant Mytischi hockey club's press service.
Along with recruiting from other clubs, Medevedev said Lokomotiv will promote five players from its youth team.
The KHL is an international club league that features 24 teams from Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia and Slovakia.
Lokomotiv is a leading force in Russian hockey, winning the Russian League championship in 1997, 2002 and 2003. The team finished third in the KHL last season.
Among those killed in Wednesday's crash were Lokomotiv coach and NHL veteran Brad McCrimmon, a Canadian; assistant coach Alexander Karpovtsev, one of the first Russians to have his name etched on the Stanley Cup as a member of the New York Rangers; and Pavol Demitra, who played for the St. Louis Blues and the Vancouver Canucks and was the Slovakian national team captain.
Other standouts killed were Czech players Josef Vasicek, Karel Rachunek and Jan Marek, Swedish goalie Stefan Liv, Latvian defenseman Karlis Skrastins and defenseman Ruslan Salei of Belarus.
Officials said Russian player Alexander Galimov survived the crash along with a crewmember. Galimov's condition is said to be critical.
On Wednesday evening, Yaroslavl governor Sergei Vakhrukov addressed a crowd of some 3,000 mourning fans outside the Lokomotiv stadium and promised the team would be rebuilt from scratch. But that vow prompted anger from some fans over a perceived lack of respect for the dead.
KHL games planned for the weekend have been postponed. Games will resume Monday, the KHL said in a statement on its website.
A memorial ceremony for victims of the crash will be held Saturday at Lokomotiv Yaroslavl's hockey arena.