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Yaroslavl Lokomotiv might play in second-tier league; Czech league postpones opener for funeral

Sep 12, 2011, 4:08 PM EST

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Czech Ice hockey players and members of Getty Images

At this point, you may already know that Yaroslavl Lokomotiv will not play in the KHL next season after the entire team fell victim to that horrific plane crash. That doesn’t mean that Lokomotiv will go away altogether, though; The Associated Press reports that a rebuilt version of the team might actually play in a second-tier Russian league this season.

Lokomotiv could play in the Major Hockey League by December, according to club president Yury Yakovlyev. The team will receive an automatic playoff bid this season to make up for the months of hockey that they’ll miss.

The original plan was for Lokomotiv to play in the KHL next season, with the team consisting of some of their junior league players along with players made available from the league’s other teams. That plan was eventually dashed with the hopes of putting together less of a quick fix.

Mutko said the rebuilding of Lokomotiv would take place in a series of stages.

The first step will be transferring the team to the Major Hockey League. After that, youth players from other clubs will be permitted to transfer to Lokomotiv, Mutko said.

Yakovlyev said Lokomotiv’s farm team of young and up-and-coming players would be used as the base on which to create a new squad. He added that before next season, Lokomotiv would seek to attract players with expired contracts and have the quota for foreign players increased to six — one more than for other teams.

That seems like a pretty reasonable plan, even if it will be difficult – both emotionally and from a hockey standpoint – to go through that process. If Lokomotiv does make its return, it will be tough for anyone to root against them.

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In related news, the Czech hockey league decided to postpone the opening day of its season from Friday to Monday to accommodate Jan Marek’s funeral. Marek was one of three Czech players who died in that plane crash, along with Karel Rachunek and Josef Vasicek.

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