Air travel in Russia concerned Dave King


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Longtime NHL coach Dave King was a hockey pioneer, becoming the first Canadian coach in Russia’s Super League. He coached Magnitorgorsk for one season (2005-06), the year following the NHL lockout.

It appealed to his adventurous spirit, and he even wrote a book about it. But there was one particular aspect about the experience he still remembered with unease on the day that a Russian jet crash killed 43 people, many of them prominent hockey players.


“I loved coaching in Russia. It was a great adventure,” King said in a telephone interview from Phoenix on Wednesday. ‘But the one thing you always worried about was charter flights.”

Commercial flights were not an issue. There was one particular aging propeller-driven plane used on occasion for charters. The players called it Pterodactyl Air, and those flights made everyone nervous, he said.

“Russia is a big country. I remember many times the prop planes would be going to the end of the runway and it seemed like the takeoff taxi would be endless,” said King, who is now a consultant with the Coyotes after several seasons as an assistant with Phoenix.

“Finally, the plane would creep up. The players would joke about it.”


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--Lisa Dillman