I wanted to share some of my experiences from a three-month whirlwind association with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv and Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League. It was too good to keep to myself.
Let’s start at the end.
I’m on my way to the rink the day after losing to Jari Kurri’s Jokerit team. Jokerit had lost three in a row and at the morning skate when I spoke to Jari I knew one of us was going to be leaving the game very disappointed.
He’s a friend, and I feel bad saying this, but I hoped it would be him. I also knew that, regardless of the circumstance of the game, if we lost I was very likely to be fired. Our record going into the game was 3-4-0.
We had lost the first two games of the season and then won three out of four, but another two-game losing streak was probably the end.
It was Sept. 24 and my assistant coach Mike Pelino and I were driving to the rink for practice. I had a strong premonition that the day was not going to be great.
I said to Mike, ‘Let’s stop at McDonalds, get an Egg McMuffin and a coffee and discuss our practice plan and lineup there.’
We were a couple bites in when translator (and former NHLer) Denis Grebeshkov called to tell me he spoke to the big boss, Yuri Yakovlev, and I wasn’t required to go to the rink.
End of the adventure.