Thu Mar 24 11:46am EDT
During the seventh playoff game between Jaromir Jagr's Avangard Omsk and Sergei Fedorov's(notes) Metallurg Magnitogorsk, which Metallurg won to advance to the next round to play Alexander Radulov's(notes) Salavat Yulaev, the news surfaced that Avangard fired its coach before the second period of that Game 7.
Avangard claimed that this was not the case and that Raimo Summanen, the coach, was having "health issues" before the game. The team said he was not fired at all, but sent to Finland for medical checkups.
NHL fans may remember Summanen from his days in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers. Summanen has a 1984 Stanley Cup ring and can actually be seen on the first Edmonton Oilers Stanley Cup-winning picture, even though his name was not engraved on the Cup because he did not officially qualify, having played only two regular-season and five playoff games for the Oilers.
Now, after his departure, Avangard players shed some light on their now former head coach, whom they said had a major conflict with the players. According to an anonymous member of the team:
"He made Jaromir Jagr the scapegoat of the playoffs. Summanen even went after Jagr with his fists after [a Game 6 victory] in Magnitogorsk. He was jumping around [Jagr], challenged him to a fight. Jagr, of course, didn't want to fight."
Kirill Belyakov from Sovetsky Sport spoke with some players from Avangard who didn't want to disclose their names. Among their comments:
"He [coach] couldn't work with anyone! The Finn just got us with the constant F-bombs. And that was happening the entire season... Everything was building up for a long time. Summanen psychologically pressured players, putting them down. And in the playoffs you know what kind of pressure there is. So all the guys couldn't take it anymore and told him everything we thought about him."
A rough translation of the SovSport article is here. Meanwhile, which NHL coach do you think would be most likely to challenge one of his own players to a fight after a loss? Besides John Tortorella?