Sami Lepisto has signed a one-year contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL — a team you may remember as the team involved in the aircraft tragedy that cost the lives of most of its players, some prospects, and the coaching staff last year. As sad as I am to see Sami go, rebuilding the Lokomotiv team in honor of all its fallen players is an awesome thing to do and I’m really glad to see he’s involved. While skeptics might see this as a bench-warmer fleeing the bench, I really believe that he was a reliable and steady defenseman who deserved more playing time than he got. Sure, he wasn’t stellar and he didn’t stand out on the ice very often — but that wasn’t his role. He did well in his role as the stay-at-home defenseman and the Blackhawks played better with him in the lineup in all of the 26 regular-season games where he saw ice time.
The original news, which spread like wildfire over Twitter, appeared in an article posted by Finnish channel MTV3 (original in Finnish). The article points out that Lepisto will be joining the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Curtis Sanford during Lokomotiv’s return to the KHL next season. Former NHLers Staffan Kronwall, Viktor Kozlov, and Vitaly Vishnevsky have also signed on with the club.