First, I’ll reiterate what I said yesterday, which is that I wouldn’t make too much of the story until we hear something directly from Visnovsky, which unfortunately probably won’t happen for several months. But this morning I received a second e-mail, from Scott Brown, a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Washington. Scott translated the story on one of the message boards, and his translation is in line with the first, plus he offered a strong explanation of how he translated it and the potential pitfalls with the story.
Here’s the e-mail, followed by the translation:
I did a second translation, posted in a new thread on LGK.com, since I read Slovak as a second (or third) language. I think the original was pretty good in general, if perhaps a bit rough or less literary in places.
But, the key paragraph with VIsnovsky’s impressions of Crawford is a bit difficult to parse, if only because it’s not apparent from the article what Visnovsky’s tone was and in what sense he meant certain key phrases.
You can see there’s a bit of a discussion of this going back and forth between myself and a third Kings fan (a Slovak in Bratislava whose English seems to be very good). I’ve amended my translation in a couple of places to correct a couple of mistakes he pointed out.
But I’d be leery at this moment of reporting that Visnovsky hates Crawford. In particular, one of the key passages, where he calls Crawford a “fool” (in Slovak blzon), is a bit ambiguous. Literally it could mean “fool” or “crazy person,” but it’s also possible he meant it in the sense that Crawford’s some sort of “mad man” or “maniac” in terms of his coaching style (perhaps he meant Crawford is very demanding and methodical).
Also, as has been pointed out, Visnovsky never said “Crawford has a Communist style.” The actual passage is difficult to translate, and has been rendered into English three different ways by three different people, but he says something akin to Crawford having a tough, practically Communist style. It could mean that Visnovsky thinks Crawford is a bit authoritarian (like a Communist), or that his methods are reminiscent of Communist-era coaches. One of the Slovak posters pointed out that the word that’s difficult to translate is a bit bookish, which raises some questions about the fidelity of the interviewer’s reporting of Visnovsky’s original words, or whether he’s paraphrasing in places.
Certainly, I wouldn’t make much of this story unless you or someone else could follow up by asking Visnovsky directly about it. Otherwise, it’s probably just a case of antsy LGKers scrutinizing every word and nuance and potentially making much ado about nothing. I can’t say myself, since I wasn’t at the interview and don’t know what sort of tone or inflections Visnovsky might have used, but anything’s possible.
Department of History
University of Washington
Visnovsky: The coach has a Communist style
The Silver medal in St. Petersburg carried him to the NHL seven years ago, and since then hes been overseas, loyal to the uniform of the Los Angeles Kings. Lubomir Visnovsky trained to become one of the best defensemen in the league, an excellent skater complemented by his offensive play and hard shot.
This season ended early for him due to an ankle injury that also kept him out of the World Championships in Moscow. He still has a year left on his contract with the Kings. In 2006-07 he earned $1.9 million.
When will you be fit?
By July. Until then, I work when I can. I work out twice a day, go for massage. Im being cautious with the ankle.
Youve already played seven seasons in Los Angeles. How was it?
We had a good team, but a few players got hurt. It held us back and we couldnt get into the playoffs. I was disappointed. Once the team was no longer in it, I tried to at least reach some personal records. I reached it in goals and thought I would also get enough points, but the injury stopped me. And then another one eluded me when I couldnt go to the World Championships.
You reached the end of the season knowing the playoffs were out of reach? Wasnt it a killer [could also be translated roughly as beatdown]?
I took it to mean that I had to prepare my best for the World Championships and also to get a new contract for myself, so I definitely didnt want to give up on the season.
It was speculated that you could get traded. Was there any substance to that?
I think that was all a bunch of hot air [literally gassy or flatulent, so I suppose it could also be translated as Lubo saying he thinks the gossip was a big fart]. I joked about this with the general manager, he reassured me that Im staying. But they asserted the same thing last year to Palo Demitra and they traded him. So who knows, its still possible they could trade me.
Kings coach Marc Crawford let it be known that he wants to build a new team around you.
It is nice to hear that I am an effective [almost in the sense of valued] player for them, and that they would be glad if I stayed. But I dont believe them 100 percent and I never will. Palo Demitra wasnt the only one they sent away, it happened to other players. The NHL is a business [biznis].
Do you want to stay in Los Angeles?
I feel good there. Life in Los Angeles is good. Its possible that Ill start the season with the Kings, but if I dont reach an agreement with them on a new contract, they will want to trade me because they would lose me without compensation.
How would you imagine your new contract?
I rate myself among players according to NHL points and time on ice. I place [classify] myself in a certain group and I know I belong there. I wont go below that line. It could be my last contract in the NHL. If I dont reach an agreement with the Kings, theyll send me to another team. The salary cap should go higher, it could lead to a bigger package, depending on how the cards play out for me.
What changed with the team with the arrival of the new general manager and coach?
Absolutely everything. The dressing room, the system on the ice. I played on the right side, now I play on the left. I got used to one thing, then boom! Coach Crawford is a fool [probably the most difficult part to understand, since he could mean by this that Crawford is crazy, or that Crawfords a madman or maniacal in some way hard to know without having been there and hearing his inflection]. He uses a tough, practically [or downright] Communist style. He’s rude to the players, he insults them. I was appalled that an NHL coach could communicate like this. This season was the worst in Kings history. I had a very good relationship with the previous coach, Andy Murray, and not only me, but also Palo Demitra after just one year. When a player sweats and toils for the team, the coach appreciates [or respects] him. Now he feels that this person doesnt appreciate anyone. This is a difference. But Im only a player and he is my boss, whom I must respect.
How do you see the teams chances in the new season?
I think the team has perspective. Kopitar, OSullivan, Cammalleri, Frolov and Johnson are young guys who could grow up to become stars, but they also need someone who will push them. So, several of the trades were incomprehensible to me Norstrom, Avery. But its the concern of the general manager [more idiomatically the GMs business], who sees things differently from me. Sometimes it is better to be quiet and to worry about yourself [in the sense of minding ones own business, rather than being selfish].
The weakness of the Kings in the fall was in goal.
This was another big mistake of management [yes, he said it that directly]. From Vancouver came the coachs horse [in the sense of one of Crawfords guys] Dan Cloutier. He wasnt in form [hard to tell whether he means this in the sense of not being in shape or not being on his game, since it could mean either one], and before the season they signed him to a two-year extension. They kept Garon, but he got hurt. The third goalie LaBarbera was the best of them, but despite this they sent him to the farm team. And because they had to put him through waivers, they could no longer call him back up, so they called up from the minors the Japanese Fukufuji. At the time we were making up ground in the playoff race and it sank the team.
Despite so many problems do you see your future being with the Kings?
Im not throwing in the towel and I believe the team. Maybe the management will also learn from mistakes. Los Angeles is a beautiful city and the Kings have fantastic fans. Even when we were playing for nothing, a lot of people came out and supported us [Lubos shout-out].
Has David Beckham-mania already broken out in Los Angeles?
Supposedly theyre giving him $50 million a year. According to what I know, only 5 million is guaranteed, the rest are bonuses for milestones and for advertising revenues. Its just a show, like all of America. The Los Angeles Kings and Galaxy have the same owner, so we have the footballers in a complex very close to us. Ive already been there a few times, but so far I havent met Beckham. Maybe well have some joint function, like we do sometimes with the basketball players of the Lakers. Maybe well also play against Beckham, and Ill see him and nutmeg him [when the ball goes through his legs, but in Slovak its literally give him a violin, which sounds even funnier than nutmegging him].
The Kings start the new season in London. Is it a promotional stunt?
The owner of the Kings built a new arena in London. He already asked me if the Slovaks will come out to root for me. Before that we play three exhibition games in Austria.
Did you follow the World Championships in Moscow?
I watched every game when I had time. The lads wanted the game against Sweden so badly that it had them all tightened up. The second period in particular was very bad on our side. I think they also lost their psychological edge. It is unfathomable that even before the championships began, the media anointed the team the favorites and was talking about a medal. We played a good deal better in St. Petersburg, where there werent so many of us. Before the quarterfinal against the Americans I saw Jason Blake in practice and he scorched pucks around me. They ridiculed us maybe they would crush us and wed go home. However, we controlled that game with perfect tactics and similarly in the semifinal with Finland. Perhaps 10,000 letters and faxes came to the hotel. It was an amazing experience for me. But we succumbed to the pressure and lost the final with the Czechs.
However, you made up for it two years later in Gteborg.
I felt it was a strong team, the goalie believed in himself, it was beautiful.
In 2011 the World Championships will be held in Slovakia. Will you be there?
It would be excellent if I could say farewell at the WC in 2011 and hang up my skates. I hope the Championships in Slovakia will be successful, because the fans deserve it.
After the generation that brought home three medals from the World Championships, there’s a drop-off occurring. What do you think about that?
The last talents from our generation were Gaborik, Hossa, then also Meszaros, Budaj, Svatos, but already there are fewer. We were asleep in the era after the collapse of the socialist system. There was a period of silence, and perhaps Slovak hockey is suffering for it. I see that things are already improving, but the times are changing. It is sad that sometimes the parents want it more than the child. When I was young, wed play all the way along the walk to practice, and after that Id play behind the apartment complex. The neighborhood teams would play hockeyball against themselves. Today the parents takes their son to practice in a car, and yell at him from the stands to try harder.
In the past you thought about building a small practice facility in Bratislava. Is that still the case?
I would like to build a complex with a fitness center, treadmill, training hall, recovery and diagnostic center for professionals and devoted amateurs. Unfortunately, I havent done it. I realize that Im an athlete, not a businessman, I cant afford to commit 60 million Slovak crowns [a little less than $2.5 million]. If I feel that way in the future, then maybe it will happen at that time. At the moment, however, I dont have time. If I were to devote myself fully to hockey and also to this, then Id never sleep.
Pravda Boris Vanya