Monday, September 26, 2011

Book 80: King of Russia

King of Russia by Dave King with Eric Duhatschek is an interesting book about what it was like to be the first Canadian coach in the Russian Super League. I love reading books from and about coaches as a way to learn different leadership styles and things to look at. In many ways I found that lacking in this book. But I still really enjoyed it since I loved seeing his experiences.

I have to give Dave King a lot of respect. His coaching pedigree is great and then he took the opportunity to coach in a foreign land where he didn’t speak the language and admittedly had a hard time pushing the buttons of the Russian NHL’ers. In his year at the Big M, he was able to create one of the best records ever for the league although ultimately they came in third.

It’s interesting to see some of his thoughts about Russia and Russians. It’s a great look into the culture. It was funny to see how often he realized that things were both the same and different all at the same time. Plus it was great to see how he could understand and relate to his players.

One of the things I liked reading was King’s thoughts about Malkin. I will never ever be a Pens fan but I do respect Malkin. His speed and ability to squeeze the puck has made both admire and curse him. He’s actually the only Penguin I wouldn’t mind being a Flyer. And it’s great to see how King was trying to help mold this amazing talent and see how excited he was to watch Malkin grow before Malkin joined the Penguins.

The book was set up as a diary. So there were times he was more introspective then others. At times, I really liked the set up and at other times I would have loved to see him expand upon his thoughts. I would have loved if this book had more coaching insights and leadership hints or notes to himself. I just love picking up on that stuff. But so much of the diary is fairly mudane things or more the cultural insights he had. There were times he would say how he was displeased with the way the team won but didn’t really say how they could have been better. Part of that comes from the fact it was a diary format. Often you write things in a diary without context or explanation since it is meant to be read by yourself.

I’m glad I got to read about Kinger’s time in Russia. It was really interesting. I am glad that I finally got to read the book. But this book hardly stands up as my favorite book about or from a coach. There wasn’t enough coaching/leadership qualities that I love to eat up in books related to coaches. A good easy read.

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