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Ex-player’s book details shocking abuse by coach Ivan Pravilov, charged in sex case

Greg Wyshynski
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Ivan Pravilov (via Druzhba-78)

U.S. federal immigration officials allege that Ivan Pravilov, a Ukrainian hockey coach, committed sexual acts with "a boy attending hockey clinics with him in the United States." He's been detained pending a court hearing on Friday in Philadelphia.

From the AP:

According to court documents, a 14-year-old boy told investigators he had sexual contact with Pravilov at an apartment in Philadelphia on Jan. 3. A second teen gave an identical account, according to the criminal complaint. Pravilov was charged with transporting a minor to engage in sexual activity because he allegedly transported the boy from the home of a host family in Wilmington, Del.

The allegations made the hockey world recoil, having just relived the deplorable history of Graham James's abuses as a youth hockey coach during his criminal prosecution last month.

They were also a shock to Dainius Zubrus of the New Jersey Devils, who was a student of Pravilov's in Ukraine from 1990-96. From the Newark Star-Ledger:

"I know the man real well," Zubrus told The Star-Ledger today. "I still keep in touch with him. It's disappointing. Obviously I never thought in my head he'd ever be accused of something like that. But there is a lot of stuff going on back in the Ukraine. He has a lot of enemies there. I'm sure the truth will come out."

One such enemy: Maxim Starchenko, a player whom Pravilov coached and worked with from 1986-1996 with Druzhba-78. His book detailing Pravilov's abuse, "Behind the Iron Curtain: Tears in the Perfect Hockey 'GULAG'" was released last month. It pulls no punches in alleging seriously twisted acts by the coach.

From Amazon.com:

The book is about Maxim Starchenko's experience on Druzhba-78 between 1986 and 1996. The story graphically describes the cruelty and inhumanity of the team's only coach, Ivan Pravilov. He abused and constantly reprimanded his players for his own entertainment and personal satisfaction.

The book describes the author's constant struggle for survival and eventual road to recovery. Maxim faced adversity on two fronts, with his coach and his misunderstanding parents, doubling the burden. The author hopes his book will encourage other former players to step forward and make Ivan Pravilov accountable for his actions. More so, it raises an important question of why this monster continues to instruct children and live comfortably in the United States.

Excerpts from the book are available online via Google Books. A cursory search for Pravilov's name turned up this tale that's just chilling (and not for the squeamish):

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Via “Behind the Iron Curtain: Tears in the Perfect Hockey ‘GULAG’”

"Behind the Iron Curtain: Tears in the Perfect Hockey 'GULAG'" is available on Amazon.com and other booksellers.

We'll update when news of Pravilov's hearing becomes available.