There is no doubt that professional athletes know how to live in the US. They are paid very well to play a game and most days only work a few hours. This does not mean what they do is easy but with a nice house or apartment to relax indefinitely helps the cause. The most prized league in Russia is the KHL, where professional hockey players come from around the world to be paid very nicely and live in a country that offers some different views on daily life than what I am accustomed to in the US. I came from the NHL where hotels were very nice and planes had gourmet food and were comfortable. So here is a thread of a few differences I noticed when I enjoyed my time in Russia.
A little tight on the plane for a 10-hour flight to Moscow
Hotels on the road
In the NHL, players are usually put up at some very nice properties from the Affinia Dumont in NYC to the Ritz in Washington DC. But in Russia, the hotels are a few stars lower. I admit I am a stickler for safety in hotels, this does not mean I am checking the smoke alarms or blue lighting my whole room but when directions for fire escapes read like this I get nervous!
The fact that the safety team made the decision that repelling down the outside of the building was my best chance of surviving a fire raised my eyebrows. Good news no fire happened while I was staying.
When players are on the road in the NHL, we always have team meals on the day of games where players are treated to the normal pasta, salad, and chicken parm served early so you can get the nap in before the game. One of my first road meals at a hotel was let's just say different.
There are many fun games players do when on the road that helps pass the time. Most of it is small bits of gambling and I live for it. Whether it is cards on the plane but my favorite was betting on whose bag will come out last through the baggage terminal. It is a simple game that everyone throws in $20 and whoever bag is last through the baggage claim window gets the pot. I have never won this. So on my first fly trip across Russia, I was excited to get the game going and hopefully pick up a few Rubles to spend on Abercrombie. I get to baggage and this is the “baggage window”. I could not believe this was the baggage claim turnstile. To add to it my bag came out in the middle and I lost it.
One of the “perks” of playing overseas is that the team pays for your housing. This varies from how good you are to what your agent can work out in the contract. If you have a good agent who knows the team they can get you a nice apartment with up-to-date appliances and TVs in the best neighborhood. As you will see my agent was a great person but did not negotiate the best place for me to live in Russia.
I will say that two tv systems are awesome for watching multiple games but without cable, this does have the same effect. I will always take with me the eclectic nature of the furniture to outfit the apartment but I found later these were donations made from people upgrading their own.
Along with the free-living quarters, some teams will give you a car to drive around usually with the sponsor's names splattered across the side but when I touched down in Khabarovsk and saw the car they offered I asked for a bike.
More to come with betting and stories of the lifestyle. Putin if you are listening I loved my time in Russia.