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Russian meteor damages KHL arena

Meteor streaks over Chelyabinsk, Russia It came out of the sky: a meteor streaks over Chelyabinsk, Russia, wreaking damage. (Sergey Hametov/AP)

By Allan Muir

There's now a hockey twist to the stunning story of the massive meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, Russia this morning.

We found this posted on the KHL's Facebook page:

The meteor shower which struck Chelyabinsk and its environs has also caused some disruption to the hockey season schedule. The emergency services have confirmed that the walls of the Arena Traktor were among those structures to suffer damage, and therefore large-scale events at the stadium have been postponed.

The sporting facilities will undergo an inspection by experts to assess the readiness of the arena to return to full operational use.

The results of the assessment will be made public on Monday, after which it will become clear whether the Chelyabinsk club can stage the first games of the playoffs. The knockout stages of the Gagarin Cup get underway on Wednesday, and as Traktor is already assured of a top four place in the Eastern Conference, the team is due to start the playoffs with home games on the 21st and 22nd of February.

At this time, the meteor shower has not affected Traktor’s schedule, as the Chelyabinsk men finish their regular season campaign with a trip on the road to Magnitogorsk on Sunday. However, three events - today’s and tomorrow’s Youth Hockey League games between Belye Medvedi of Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk’s Stalnye Lisy and Saturday’s planned opening of the Traktor’s museum -- have had to be postponed.

That post supersedes an earlier piece that suggested there was no damage to the arena. It appeared from the initial version of this story that the team, coached by former Winnipeg Jet Ravil Gusmanov, was practicing at the facility at the time. But this piece on former Atlanta Thrashers goalie Michael Garnett is clear that the team had yet to begin skating:

"The 31-year-old initially thought there had been a plane crash or a bomb blast, but later learned what happened when he drove to hockey practice less than an hour later."

Traktor's roster is dotted with familiar names, including former Canadien/Predator Andrei Kostitsyn, failed Anaheim first-rounder Stanislav Chistov, top Washington prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov, and Valeri Nichushkin, a hulking forward who is expected to go in the first round in this summer's draft.
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