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Air travel in Russia concerned Dave King

September 7, 2011 |  8:59 pm

Dave-king_250 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.”

RELATED:

Ducks remember Ruslan Salei, killed in Russian plane crash

Pavol Demitra, Ruslan Salei among 43 dead in Russian plane crash

Hockey world reacts to Russian plane crash tragedy

Luc Robitaille remembers former Kings teammate Pavol Demitra

--Lisa Dillman

Photo: Dave King during his assistant coaching stint with the Phoenix Coyotes. Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

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