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National Hockey League training camps are underway, and soon the pucks will drop in earnest. The regular seasons are already underway around Europe, including the KHL, VHL and MHL. As most of your know, I am a history buff — hey, I gotta put my degree from Penn to some use — and I very much enjoy taking in the historical sites and local cultural of the places I visit.

It’s one of the fringe benefits of my life in hockey.

Yesterday, I attended an MHL (junior league) game pitting CSKA Moscow against Karlovy Vary. For those who have never been there, Karlovy Vary is a small but lovely Czech city in the Sudentland on the German border.

Unfortunately, the beautiful town of Karlovy Vary was sullied by the presence of Adolf Hitler, who was said to enjoy taking hot baths in their natural springs. It was a secret to none but was one of the reasons why he seized control of the area in 1937. Neville Chamberlain and others attempted to appease Hitler and Chamberlain proclaimed the agreement would mean “peace in our time.” So much for that. Hitler and Nazis got the town amid their rapid annexation of Czechoslovakia. Eventually, we all got World War II.

Anyway, back to hockey.

The goalie for CSKA’s junior team the last two days was 17-year-old Maxim Tretiak. Yes, he is related to the legendary Vladislav Tretiak. Maxim is his grandson. The younger Tretiak tended goal in a 4-1 win and a 3-2 loss to Red Bull Salzburg; an Austrian bsed team.

Salzburg is another beautiful town that the Austrian-born Hitler enjoyed polluting with his presence. The Eagle’s Nest is right there for all to see. The house was bombed and is in ruins but the view is serene and spectacular, just as you saw in Band of Brothers. The Von Trapp family in the music festival there.

Next on the agenda, I head down to Sochi for a game against Magnitogorsk, where I will get to see my old friend “Iron” Mike Keenan, whose team won the KHL championship last year. Mike and I have always had a lot of mutual respect but we get along better nowadays that I’m not directly refereeing games involving his team!

Say what you will about Keenan, but the guy can win regardless of what side of the ocean he’s coaching. He’s won a Stanley Cup and a Gagarin Cup. He’s led Philadelphia, Chicago and New York to the Stanley Cup Finals. Before that, he won championships coaching junior hockey with the Peterborough Petes and a Calder Cup in the AHL with the Rochester Americans.

Keenan and his assistant coach, Mike Pellino, often send me game tapes to watch and popcorn to much on while I watch (haha). Mike keeps me busy all season and off-season. I don’t always agree with him but does raise some valid issues.

After Sochi, I am off to Kazan to run a “Master Class” on Officiating and to see Ak Bars Kazan play their KHL opponent, Metallurg Novokuznetsk, which is located in the Pittsburgh of Russia.

As some of you may have heard, Barys Astana will have a substitute head coach for the next few games. Andrei Nazarov, — yes, the former NHL player — got a few games of involuntary vacation for his, um, histrionics during a recent game. Saluting the crowd in that manner not a time honored tradition regardless of the league or the language. Now, I like Nazzy personally.We will have coffee and a little chat.

Shortly thereafter, I’m be hopping – well, not hopping, but stepping — aboard a Delta flight to head back to North America to oversee the officiating for ECAC Men’s and Women’s Hockey.

Hockey, hockey, hockey. Cold rinks, hot coffee and old friends. Like the salmon swimming upstream. it’s that time of year again and I’m back in my home away from home — whatever local rink it may be.

Have a good weekend and may The Flow be with you!

************ Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Today, Stewart is an officiating and league discipline consultant for the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and serves as director of hockey officiating for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC).

The longtime referee heads Officiating by Stewart, a consulting, training and evaluation service for officials, while also maintaining a busy schedule as a public speaker, fund raiser and master-of-ceremonies for a host of private, corporate and public events. As a non-hockey venture, he is the owner of Lest We Forget.

Stewart is currently working with a co-author on an autobiography.This post originally appeared on and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.