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Former NHL coach Bob Hartley keeps busy while waiting for next gig

Rumours coming out of Russia had Bob Hartley headed over there but the former Colorado Avalanche and Atlanta Thrashers head coach says nothing has materalized on that front.

"I'm driving to Montreal right now, I'm pretty far from Moscow," Hartley told The Canadian Press on Monday. A Russian agent did indeed recently contact Hartley, who was fired as head coach of the Thrashers on Oct. 17.

"They asked me if I would be interested," said Hartley. "When you love hockey, you're interested in coaching and everything ... But we'll just wait and see how everything plays out."

Hartley won't make a rash decision.

He obviously wants back into coaching but wants to make the right move the next time the phone rings.

"I've been coaching for the last 20 years," said Hartley, who coached in Canadian major junior and the AHL before getting his first NHL job in 1998 with Colorado. "But it would be very selfish of me right now to say, 'I want to coach in the NHL tomorrow.'

"Because that means I want something to go bad to one my coaching partners in the NHL."

Hartley's 329 regular-season NHL wins and his Stanley Cup ring suggest he'll get another crack.

"I'll just wait patiently and if my names comes up, I'll look at the situation and if I feel it's the right situation, I'll jump in," said Hartley.

In the meantime, the 47-year-old native of Hawkesbury, Ont., has stayed busy coaching kids in his hometown and Montreal.

He also spent the last two weeks deer hunting. He refuses to sit on the couch and mope.

"I have two choices, either to move on or to sit there and say, 'That's not fair,"' said Hartley. "Hey, it happened to Scotty Bowman, it's going to happen all of us."

He's made peace with what happened in Atlanta, where he was let go after the team started 0-6-0.

"It was disappointing," said Hartley. "Because you know every team will go through a slump, especially with 10 new guys in the lineup. But we didn't get the start that we wanted and that's the way it goes.

"You have to turn the page and move on."

Hartley says he left on good terms with general manager Don Waddell, who has since gone behind the bench, where he was 9-4-0 as coach heading into Monday's game against Tampa Bay.

"Don treated me very well," said Hartley. "He told me that the owners felt a change was needed. When you pay the bills, you're allowed to make decisions. I had fun over there, it was just a bad start ...

"I'm very glad that they turned it around. And I'm not surprised at all."

He still watches their games.

"Oh yeah, I'm a hockey guy," said Hartley. "I watch every game. Hockey is my passion."

On Saturday, he found himself behind the bench coaching nine-year-olds.

"One of my buddies couldn't make it," he said with a laugh. "It's fun. I've also run a couple of bantam practices. I could be on the ice 24 hours a day."

Hartley spent more than four seasons as coach of the Avalanche from June 1998 to December 2002, winning the Stanley Cup in 2001.

He joined the Thrashers midway through the 2002-03 season. He has a 329-235-80 record in 644 regular-season NHL games.


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