Paul Maurice when asked on NHL Live about what he learned coaching in the KHL last season (January 14, 2014):
The value and difficulty in communication, and how it’s so important to reach out individually and get to know these people and get to know your players.
Sometimes, and I’m guilty of it, certainly early on in my career, you get so bogged down in the video and the Xs and Os, and maybe it’s just feeling the weight of the losses, that…you stop doing those things and I realized it … when I was over there and English was not always easy. Certainly on the bench, getting an idea across quickly was very very difficult to do, how important that communication is.
[And I thought of]a lot of times back in my career where I should have reached out to players, [players] needed me to reach out and be more clear and be more involved in their individual game.
And maybe to show that to, to show that enjoyment, to allow your hockey team, instead of constantly having them under that pressure of a coach who’s on them with everything, allow the players to enjoy it a little bit. It was an incredible experience over there, EJ, just for the things that you take for granted, on and off the ice.
But when you can’t communicate with people, it makes your job nearly impossible. And then you know what else? I’ll tell you what: a little apology to every European- or Russian-born player that I ever coached early on, not understanding how difficult it is to change cultures and just to change hockey cultures. The way they play, and how they view the game is different from us.
And geez, we’d get a young European guy, and I’d explain the way the National League game is played, and expected him to just nod, say thank you and change everything that he’s learned his entire life. And I needed to give some of those guys maybe a little more time. But certainly now I have an appreciation for how they’ve trained their whole lives. There’s an adjustment, to come to play our game, our sized rink, how we view the game and I’m fortunate that I had that experience and I’m very thankful for it.
I really hope more NHL coaches get this than don’t, but I’m afraid most don’t get it. Hence their difficulties with bridging the culture gaps.