Plan for Lokomotiv's return outlined

The KHL announced a step-by-step plan Monday to return Lokomotiv back into the Russia-based league after the club was decimated by a plane crash on Sept. 7.

"I am pleased to announce that fans of hockey will soon witness the return of the Lokomotiv team," KHL president Alexander Medvedev said in a statement Monday.

Medvedev said that starting Dec. 1, Lokomotiv will play in the VHL, a lower-level league. The following season, that team will be the foundation of the team that will return to the KHL.

"I am grateful to the leaders of the players' union and of our hockey clubs for the constructive approach and professionalism shown in our work on these provisions," Medvedev said. "In this tragic situation, when it is impossible to make up for the loss of those who died, all the parties have done everything possible to see that hockey in Yaroslavl will not only continue, but also resume a leading position."

The rebuilding will take place in stages. Lokomotiv will play 22 games in the VHL, one against each team in the league. Lokomotiv will later be able to select, via transfer agreement, players born between 1989 and 1994 who have current KHL or VHL contracts.

The plane crash of a chartered Yak-42 jet outside the western city of Yaroslavl took the lives of 28 players, two coaches and seven other Lokomotiv staff. Alexander Galimov, the only member of the team to initially survive the crash in which 44 people were killed, died the following week from his injuries in a Moscow hospital.