It was an easy decision for Jaroslav Modry and his family to return to Los Angeles after he finished his pro hockey career.
He spent ten seasons and 454 games with the Kings, the most of any team in his NHL career.
Plus, all three of his children were born in California. In fact, they were all delivered in the same hospital by the same doctor while he was playing in LA.
And, of course, most importantly, his wife, Jodi, really loved it there too.
So, after he hung up his skates in 2012, following four years of playing back home in the Czech Republic, the Modrys decided they were going back to Cali.
“We said it would be really cool to live there and experience what it was like to live in Southern California away from hockey,” Modry recently recalled.
“When I was playing hockey, we didn’t have the chance to sightsee. You had to concentrate on your job. You couldn’t go to the beach consistently. You had to stay on the top of your game,” he added.
Modry wanted to return to Los Angeles to truly experience everything the city had to offer, but he ended up finding so much more.
When he got back, he reconnected with a few of his former teammates who were still living in the area, including Jamie Storr, who was a goaltender with the Kings from 1994 to 2003. Not only did Storr help Modry transition back to life in LA, he also got him involved in youth hockey with the Jr. Kings program.
As soon as he stepped out onto the ice with the Jr. Kings AAA group for the first time, Modry was hooked.
“I realized I had the passion [to coach] and began studying it every day to try to get better,” he reflected.
While Modry worked on refining his coaching skills, his two sons, Jacob and Luc, really began developing their hockey skills. Both spent time in the Jr. Kings program and not only benefitted from their father’s tutelage as a coach, but his experience as a player.
“It was nice to be able to help them out and show them what’s ahead for them and help them enjoy this beautiful game,” he explained.
“It’s up to them how far they’re going to take the game, but it’s important that you love it and enjoy it. There are times when it will be tough and if you don’t love it or you’re not passionate for it, it’s going to be hard to battle through the adversity,” he continued.
It was not long into his tenure with the Jr. Kings before Modry realized that he wanted to coach at the pro level. In 2017, he earned that opportunity when he was named as an assistant coach with the Ontario Reign, the LA Kings’ American Hockey League affiliate.
“The Kings gave me an opportunity so now I get to experience being a coach in pro hockey. I’m enjoying every minute of it,” Modry exclaimed.
Over the course of his 20-year professional hockey career, Modry had a lot of great coaches. Now that he’s behind the bench with the Reign, he hopes to draw from the wealth of experience he’s had with coaches who have included Robbie Ftorek, Jacques Lemaire, Larry Robinson, and Andy Murray.
“Every coach had some strength and something unique that they brought,” Modry noted.
“The biggest influence early in my career were a couple coaches back home [Czech Republic] who went out of their way to help me out. When I first got to the United States, my first coach was Robbie Ftorek. He was just a nice gentleman and went out of his way to teach me how to be a pro and what to expect at the NHL level,” he remembered.
Whether it was how Larry Robinson treated people or Andy Murray’s attention to detail, Modry has learned something from every coach he’s ever had and has tried to incorporate their teachings into his coaching book.
When he thinks about what strength or unique attribute he brings to the Reign, Modry believes it’s the trust he builds with the players as he tries to help them reach their full potential.
“I’m here to help them out and get them to the next level,” he stated.
While working with them on the fundamentals of the game and improving their skills is a big part of his job, Modry believes that an even bigger part of his portfolio is helping them transition into professional hockey.
“Helping them understand what it takes to be a pro and understand what it’s like to go from junior to pro hockey or college to pro hockey in order to find success at the highest level in the NHL,” Modry described.
Although Modry has graduated to the pro ranks of coaching, he still finds time to work with the Jr. Kings. This past week he was in Lake Tahoe, Nevada for an annual training camp that he’s been a part of for the past five years, which allows the players and coaches to get to know each other and have some fun before the season begins.
It’s challenging for Modry to help out with the youth program once the Reign’s season begins, but he always seems to find time in his busy schedule.
“I just help out when I can,” he explained. “I help out some of the teams and some of the coaches I’ve worked with in the past. Anything I can help out with, I try to do my best,” Modry added.
If Modry’s dedication and commitment to his new craft is any indication, he has a bright future in the coaching world.