Hit Sergei Fedorov? Fighting at a wedding party…someone else’s wedding party? Party all night with the club owner?
Yes, living in Russia can be a lot of fun. For some foreign hockey players, playing in our country takes a backseat. One of the most striking examples is the Vityaz players of the early 2010s. Both that club and those hockey players had little interest in the game. And “Vityaz” itself did not want to show ice hockey. The players were selected accordingly.
So John Mirasty was invited as a tough guy and a showman with fists.
The other day, the Canadian player, who spent the 2011/2012 season with Vityaz, was a guest on the famous Spittin’ Chiclets podcast and told a lot of stories about Russia. Here you have a translation of the most interesting moments.
“I would like to come to Russia a couple of years earlier”
Mirasti began with a story about how he decided to go to Russia in the first place.
“Tampa Bay” tried to “push” me to another club, but I felt too comfortable in “Syracuse” (the Lightning’s farm club in the AHL. – Note from the “Championship”), and I did not risk it, although I should try my luck. But anyway, that year when Anaheim beat Syracuse, they made fun of me. That’s a completely different story. I can show you emails from NHL executives who were furious that I was too popular. They didn’t like the idea of me taking glory away from their draft picks and all that. That’s why I fooled around in Syracuse and they sent me to Fort Wayne.
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I kept playing because I got paid – I was getting a good salary in the AHL. He said I’ll go anywhere, I don’t care, I won’t fight, although, you know, it was harder for me. So in later years I said, “Okay, I’ll go to Russia.”
Ironically, they wanted to see me there; my best friend, Jeremy Jablonski, was also going there. Then I thought, “The best way to end my hockey career is to play with Jeremy!” Well, in general, it came down to this.
Photo: Vladimir Bezzubov, photo.khl.ru
A couple of years before they had already offered me a contract there and I liked it. But I said I still want to fulfill my dream. Now looking back, I wish I had come to Russia a couple of years earlier because I ended up making money at the NHL level there. “That’s how I ended up in Russia.”
“Chekhov is a garbage man”
Trying to get to a new country also became an adventure for Mirasty.
“I ended up in Russia and it’s a completely different story. It’s been 10 years, but I remember when we landed in Riga, Latvia. We had to get there first because we had to wait for visas or something else to enter Russia. So Jablonski and I stayed in Riga for probably two or three days. We were just waiting. And I remember thinking, “Damn, this place is amazing!” I don’t know if you have been to Riga, but it is a beautiful European city. Brick walls, brick streets, good clubs and good hotels.
The Finns also tell interesting stories about Russia:
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I remember being greeted in Riga and thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m going to love this!” But then when they finally sent us to Moscow and then to Chekhov, I thought, “Well, this place is a dump” (laughs). I have many stories from those times.
I remember that I was in Chekhov after Riga, and in Russia, as you know, there is no spirit of the NHL, there are no rules, opponents constantly fall. You skate, train, fight and that’s it. “This is your life, as well as a dream.”
“Damn, he has a gun!”
The meeting with the owner of Vityaz turned out to be “successful” for John.
“About three weeks later, when it was four in the afternoon, I was sleeping. She decided to take a nap, yes. And a big guy knocked on my door. I opened it and she was naked, so I wrapped myself in a towel. This big fucking Russian says, “Come down for five minutes, the boss needs you.” It’s like I don’t even know this guy. He had a machine gun hanging from his arm, so I went back and sat on the bed.
Not even three minutes had passed when my phone rang. It was Jablonski and he said to me: “Yeah, this guy just came to my room too… Well, what are you going to do?” I said, “Damn, he’s got a gun!” Let us go fast!
Photo: Yulia Novikova, foto.khl.ru
We went down and saw a large crowd: a whole entourage! – cars. Just like in the movies: there’s a police car here, there’s a police car there, a couple of SUVs. We approached and a little boy came out to greet us, his name was Sasha. He was the chief’s son. He said, “Hi, my dad, he loves you!” He and his father are the owners. He said, “He’s okay, great.” He said, “Yes, we will take you to the village.” This place is called like this: a town, it is about 20 minutes by car from the city, his father lived there.
In short, we got into the cars and followed this procession to the town. When we stop, it’s like in the movies: all these guys with dogs and mirrors walking around the cars to make sure there are no bombs or anything. When they let us through the gate, there is a Siberian tiger in a cage! On the other hand, the horses! I remember driving there and thinking, “Where the hell did I end up?”
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Well, we approach the main “cabin”. Well, I mean, this place is similar to what happens in the movies you’ve ever seen. All these mansions where famous people live. These cabins are everywhere.
Anyway, that’s why we’re leaving. Suddenly a little Russian in some kind of military robe approaches. There is nothing underneath, he is naked. Just a little man. I’m short, but he’s shorter than me! You know me: when I see a guy, I can tell if he’s cool. A simple look is enough. So I look at this guy and I’m like, “Oh, no, I’m not playing with him.” He’s just, you know, fat, weathered, big-eared, and just plain bad.
He finally comes over and hugs me! He says, “I’m the owner, boss.” And he doesn’t speak English, he just said, “I’m the boss, man, I love you!” He hugged me, he hugged us all. It was the first time I heard him, the first time we met, but he was the reason they brought us there.
Simply put, we drank like rock stars all afternoon, all night, all day. Then we sat down and looked around. We got completely drunk. They pulled out guns, we shot and drank. The only thing is that you don’t drink and you never date women. When you’re young, you want to see women. But men drink and women drink last.
Drinking alcohol can have dire consequences:
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Four in the morning. We are in the trash, we are drunk. And Sasha said: “Okay, guys, you have training tomorrow, you better go home.” Then they took us home. She said: “There will be a gift waiting for you at home when you return to the hotel. And I went.”
“The coach wanted to pay me to beat Fedorov”
Mirasti also told how the club offered him money to beat Sergei Fedorov, who at that time played for Metallurg. Vityaz was then led by Andrei Nazarov.
“Believe it or not, I was innocent. When we played the preseason we were in Magnitogorsk. Sergei Fedorov performed there. And I remember the coach wanted to pay me to beat him up. I said, “No, no way!” He was one of my favorite players as a kid. Number 91 of the Detroit Red Wings. So I said, “No, I won’t.”
Photo: Yulia Novikova, foto.khl.ru
In any case, in the same season I had a fight with Evgeniy Artyukhin. I remember that after the fight Nazarov was delighted because I beat my opponent. And he said, “Hey Canadian guys, you know, we’ve been working hard on this for about a month. Now you guys can go out and have fun! Come on, go to a bar or something.” It was a Sunday afternoon. We went to dinner, drank vodka and the bottle was like $10, so you could live like a rock star.”
“Damn, what if we kill one of these guys…?”
In the end, Mirasti told how he fell out with his compatriots and teammates in Russia and how Artemy Panarin helped him.
“We were at training camp the whole time, so I remember saying, ‘Hey, let’s go somewhere!’ We went bowling. I thought, “Hey, let’s go to this club.” There’s a great club there that opens at midnight. “Let’s check it out.” It was. We got there around 11:30 pm and the club didn’t open until midnight. Of course, Jablonski and I stood out. He had a big mohawk, so he was bigger, he had black. [из-за синяков] eyes. Then this large crowd waiting at the entrance immediately knew who we were. The ladies tried to take photos with us, they were just fans. But they were here for a wedding party that was being held there. These women were dressed as brides and wanted to take a photo with us. The boys, of course, didn’t like it.
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Of course, a large crowd gathered and started pushing. I realized what was happening, so I went to the back of the crowd to look around. I remember Kip Brennan was there and he kept arguing until he was hoarse for about 10 minutes and I stayed there.
And then there were several hits. Jeremiah [Яблонски] He ran into the crowd, about three guys attacked him. Of course, he’s my friend, so I ran there. And at the end we were fighting with five or six guys. I remember stopping. We didn’t even enter the club. When I stopped and looked around, I got scared because there were guys lying on the ground shaking. And those women who were photographed with us looked at them and were scared. I thought, “Damn, what if we killed one of these guys…?”
Photo: Yulia Novikova, foto.khl.ru
All these guys started running because the police came. And I’m a really slow guy, so at first I just ran, but when I heard the cop, I stopped so they wouldn’t shoot me. The police came and handcuffed me. And I was like, “Damn, I don’t even speak Russian.” I had only been in Russia three weeks and couldn’t speak a word of Russian, and these guys didn’t know a word of English. That I have to do?! Fortunately, little Panarin ran back; At that time Artemy was an 18 year old boy and didn’t even speak English very well. He simply approached the police and started: “Mirasty, Mirasty, tough guy, tough guy” (Mirasty hits his palm with his fist.-Note from “Championship”). And he looks at me and says, “Money! Money! (translated from English as “money”. – Note from the “Championship”). I answer: “Yes, yes!” They let me take my wallet out of my pocket. I think he had about $400 or $500 with me. Panarin said: “Da, da!” (translated from English as “give, give”. – Note from the “Championship”). I gave this money to the police and, damn, they let me go. This was the story of our Russian wedding.
Then about a week later it was shown on KHL TV, similar to our Sportsnet, for the next two weeks. This video went viral throughout Russia and the United States. You know, it seemed like we were going to a wedding and getting into these fights, but we were innocent bystanders. And it wasn’t really a wedding, it was a wedding party. Yeah, we ended up beating up the guys there, but it wasn’t like we crashed a wedding or anything,” Mirasty concluded.