EDMONTON - Take away the shady-looking guys in black leather jackets and Martin Gerber rather enjoyed most of his KHL experience.
Not so much that he was willing to play there forever, but it was fun while it lasted.
“There’s some really good stuff and there’s also some bad stuff,” said Gerber. “You have to be kind of open and don’t ask too many things. Language is a huge challenge over there. Things can get really, really complicated. It’s a different lifestyle, that’s for sure.”
And the famous Russian henchmen?
“Lot’s of those,” he said. “I think it looks scarier than it is sometimes, but sometimes you also think to yourself, ‘Holy crap, what did I get into here?’”
He’s out of it now, having signed on with the goalie-heavy Oilers this summer.
“I just want to get a chance to go somewhere and have the opportunity to show I can play,” he said. “That’s all I was looking for. I always said I wanted to try the Russian thing, I always wanted to do it and it just happened to fall in place last year. But I said if there’s a chance to go back I’ll definitely go back.”
It’s a crowded crease, with four guys currently in the same blue paint, but Gerber, 36, is staying away from the math.
“I don’t really think about it too much, I’m just trying to take the opportunity that I have, put everything out there and let management decide what’s going to happen.
“I don’t think it’s up to me to really think too much and try to figure it out. I just put a good effort forward and see how it goes.”
He’s the second-oldest player in camp (four months younger than Nikolai Khabibulin), but says the Russian stint truly sharpened his skills.
“It’s a different game there, tons of speed and lots of passing,” he said. “As a goalie it’s really challenging, not to over-commit to the shot. You had to improve your lateral movement. It wasn’t on the level of the NHL, but it was challenging in the way that it was played.”