Tragedy-hit Lokomotiv pulls out of top league

By the Associated Press | September 12, 2011 | 1:10 PM EDT

In this photo taken on Friday, Sept. 2, 2011, Alexander Galimov, a member of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl ice hockey team poses for a photograph in Yaroslavl, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Moscow, Russia. The only member of the Russian hockey team to survive a fiery plane crash that killed 44 people died of his injuries in a Moscow hospital on Monday, Sept. 12, 2011. The hospital said Galimov died Monday morning of severe burns that covered about 90 percent of his body. (AP Photo/Yaroslav Neyolov)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia's sports minister says the hockey team wiped out by a plane crash last week will not take part in this year's Kontinental Hockey League season.

Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said Monday that Lokomotiv Yaroslavl would be demoted to a lower league as part of a gradual rebuilding program.

Lokomotiv President Yury Yakovlyev says the team might begin playing in December in the Major Hockey League, the second-highest level in Russian hockey.

Top hockey officials had earlier expressed hopes Lokomotiv could be revived in time to play this season by drafting in players from other KHL teams. Those plans appear to have been shelved in favor of longer-term reconstruction.