Metallurg Novokuznetsk is currently on a nine-game losing streak, allowing them to free fall into last place in the the 14-team KHL Eastern Conference. The are 2-7-0-2 on the season (W-L-SOW-SOL) with a measly eight points, putting them seven points back of a playoff spot at this point. After opening the season with wins over Sibir Novosibirsk and Amur Khabarovsk, it has all been downhill.
They have little in the way of star players. Kurtis McLean is their only North American player and he has just four NHL games with the Islanders to speak of in his career. Every single player who has played more than five games is a minus, and there doesn't appear to be many positives. Yet goaltender Niko Hovinen has a 2.71 GAA and a .924 save percentage. So what gives?
Well, in seven of their eleven games, they have allowed three goals or less. They are 1-3 in one-goal games including being 0-2 in overtime games. This appears to be a team that is low on confidence and down on themselves. A coaching change might give the boys the kick in the pants they need.
Titov replaces Alexander Kitov, the fourth KHL coach to be let go early in the season. He follows Petri Matikainen (Avangard Omsk), Sergei Svetlov (Atlant Moscow) and Tom Rowe (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl) to the unemployment line after their teams started off poorly. Titov is going to his hands full, but it's nice to see a guy back on the scene after he seemingly disappeared after retiring.
He reportedly was living in Calgary, but one doesn't just become a KHL assistant coach out of the blue. After last playing for the Mighty Ducks in 2001-02, Titov went back to Russia where he played 87 games over two seasons for Voskresensk Khimik. The rumor of Titov residing in Calgary may have been greatly exaggerated with his two-year stint with Voskresensk Khimik.
Now he'll be calling the shots Metallurg Novokuznetsk, some 3800 kilometers east of Voskresensk and Moscow, directly above the Kazakhstan-Mongolia border. It's a long haul to the capital city in Russia, but everyone has to start somewhere. Best of luck to German Titov as he officially begins his had coaching career.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!