Conditions in Russia do not favour growing fighters like Jon Mirasty or Jeremy Yablonski, says Andrey Nazarov, coach of the KHL’s roughest side, Vityaz Chekhov.
Talking on his club’s official website, Nazarov stressed that the tough guys are not the ones to blame for Vityaz’s poor results this season. The Chekhov team are currently second worst in the league, with just 40 points after 48 games and no playoff chances.
“Our tough guys perform the function of deterrence of our rivals,” the coach explained. “I agree, they earn almost no points, but they do what they are paid for perfectly well. On the other hand, some guys who must score and assist, have failed their season completely. I won’t come up with any names, but the problem isn’t in the tough guys.”
Nazarov stressed that he has no plans to reduce the number of fighters in his lineup anytime soon.
“Three or four tough guys – like we have now – is OK,” the 37-year-old stressed. “Maybe a smaller amount would have been even better, but because of the long-term suspensions, which the league imposes on us, the current number is just fine.”
Vityaz’s Canadian fighters have received numerous bans from the KHL for turning their games into brawls. Jeremy Yablonski was handed a year-long ban, but was later forgiven by Russian hockey officials.
“It’s impossible to grow fighters like [Jon] Mirasty, [Kip] Brennan and Yablonski in Russia,” Nazarov said. “They just won’t get the needed practice, which the Canadians had when they were young and had 30 fights in a season. It’s not an option in Russia.”
The coach knows what he’s talking about as Naz used to be one of the top tough guys in the NHL, playing and fighting for the Phoenix Coyotes, the Boston Bruins and several other teams.