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NHL Legend Ready to Coach Flyers’ Matvei Michkov: ‘I will be glad’

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Matvei Michkov
(Photo: Dmitry Bondarenko)

The one thing that has the single greatest death grip on the Philadelphia Flyers’ offseason narrative right now is the possibility that Matvei Michkov will leave the KHL to play in the NHL as early as this summer.

While it’s currently unclear whether or not that happens, it is clear that Michkov’s roster spot on his parent club, SKA St. Petersburg, is far from guaranteed. If he can’t hack it with SKA for a second straight season, it could mean Michkov is either joining up with the Flyers or spending another season with HK Sochi on loan. If the latter happens, a Russian NHL legend is waiting for Michkov on the other side.

Hockey Hall of Famer and two-time Stanley Cup champion Sergei Zubov, 53, was hired as the new head coach of Sochi on May 1. If the opportunity presents itself, the legendary defenseman will be ready to coach the uber-talented Michkov. It’s also worth noting that Zubov spent each of the last two seasons as an assistant coach for SKA, so he’s someone who should know Michkov fairly well, even if Michkov didn’t play much for SKA during that time.

“If there is an opportunity to work with him, then, of course, I will be glad,” Zubov told MatchTV in a recent interview. “Matvei attacks — high-level player. He played well for Sochi last season. If he is back on the team, it will be a gain.”

Michkov, 19, spent parts of the last two KHL seasons with Sochi. In 2022-23, Michkov played in only three games for SKA before joining Sochi on loan, scoring nine goals, 11 assists, and 20 points in 27 games. Last season, history repeated itself and Michkov was loaned by SKA to Sochi after just one game.

In 47 games with SKA, partially interrupted by a bout with pneumonia, the star Flyers prospect scored 19 goals, 22 assists, and 41 points.

“Any player is a person. It is necessary to find an approach and understanding for everyone,” Zubov added. “Everything is built through communication. You need to find a common language to convey your thoughts.”

Perhaps Zubov is alluding to the lack of harmony between Michkov and SKA head coach Roman Rotenberg, who has previously excluded him from his SKA teams and even the Russian U25 National Team. Given Zubov just coached for SKA, his potential coaching Michkov could be a good way for Rotenberg and Co. to keep closer tabs on the Flyers starlet.

If not, it still benefits the Flyers that their No. 1 prospect is being coached by a Hall of Fame defenseman who enjoyed an illustrious 16-year NHL career in Zubov.

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