Semyon Varlamov is set to return home in the wake of the NHL Lockout. The Colorado Avalanche netminder will head back overseas and play for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. The KHL club lost 44 of its members in a plane crash last season. Varlamov is likely to be joined by Washington Capitals forward Alexander Semin on the team.
Varlamov was a part of the Lokomotiv organization from the time he was 11 until the Capitals’ drafted him in 2008. The Avalanche gave up two draft picks for the keeper, who became Colorado’s starting goaltender. Varlomov played in 53 games and recorded a 2.59 Goals Against Average last season. He struggled early in the year, but was one of the big reasons for optimism for the Avalanche community heading into the now locked-out 2012-2013 campaign due to his strong play in the second half.
Yaroslavl is 160 miles away from Moscow and has been without a hockey team for the last year since the plane carrying Lokomotiv crashed, killing 44 people including former Colorado Avalanche players Ruslan Salei and Karlis Skrastins. Varlamov was set to return to return to Lokomotiv last season because of disputes with the Capitals; he was instead traded to the Avalanche. He likely would have been on the plane and lost many friends in the crash.
Many NHL players are choosing the path overseas with the NHL Owners locking out the players. The sides have not talked since the lockout took effect Saturday night. The story of Lokomotiv is heartbreaking and Varlamov being able to return home and help the healing could be one of the best stories to come out of the lockout.