On October 12, the FHR planned to approve the assistants to the head coach of the Russian hockey team for the Olympics. However, the decision has not yet been made. Why did it happen and is it realistic for Ilya Kovalchuk to get into the headquarters of the national team – in the material of RBC
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The head coach of the Russian national team Alexei Zhamnov at a meeting of the members of the expert council of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (FHR) stated as assistants to prepare for the Olympics:
- Goalkeeping coach of San Jose, world champion Evgeny Nabokov;
- Former Pittsburgh coach, Olympic silver and bronze medalist Sergei Gonchar;
- Head coach of CSKA, three-time Stanley Cup winner, three-time world champion, silver and bronze medalist of the Olympic Games Sergei Fedorov;
- Dynamo head coach Alexei Kudashov;
- Olympic champion, two-time world champion Ilya Kovalchuk.
According to a RBC source close to one of the meeting participants, it was attended by functionaries holding high positions in the FHR and the Continental Hockey League (KHL), as well as veterans of domestic hockey. Some of the candidates proposed by Zhamnov aroused questions from them. Due to the need for additional approvals, the decision was postponed until October 18.
RBC sent a request to FHR.
The coach of the hockey team was changed before they could be appointed. What was it?
Small experience and finance
According to some members of the expert council, several potential assistants of Zhamnov have little coaching experience.
Nabokov worked at San Jose for a season and a half. The potter worked at Pittsburgh for three championships. Fedorov was appointed head coach of CSKA only last summer. Kovalchuk is still an active hockey player, but does not have a club.
Zhamnov himself was not a coach on a regular basis. He worked as general manager of Spartak for six years. During this time, he was once the acting head coach and several times acted as an assistant to Vadim Epanchintsev and Oleg Znark. Zhamnov also worked at the headquarters of the national team at the 2016 World Cup, the Pyeongchang Olympics and several world championships.
“There is an opinion that it will be difficult for such a headquarters to manage a stellar team, since many players perceive these coaches as senior comrades,” another source close to FHR told RBC.
This explains the position of the federation, which insists that Znarok go to Beijing at least as a consultant. As a coach, he won the Olympics, the World Championship and three Gagarin Cups.
Igor Larionov left the post of head coach of the Russian youth team on Thursday. He led the Olympic team. The specialist can also enter the headquarters of the Russian national team.
Another problem, a source close to one of the meeting participants, called the high financial requirements of some of Zhamnov’s candidates.
As for the head coach himself, the contract with Zhamnov, as of Wednesday morning, had not been signed. The reason is the ongoing discussion of salaries.
Kovalchuk faces a choice
Of greatest interest is the candidacy of the only active hockey player – Kovalchuk. At the end of last week, he flew to Moscow from the United States, where he was preparing for the season, hoping to sign a contract with one of the NHL clubs. The regular season in the leading hockey league has already begun, but the 38-year-old striker has not yet managed to agree with any team.
According to a RBC source close to the FHR, now Kovalchuk is faced with a choice: to continue his sports career or end it and replenish the headquarters of the Russian national team.
Zhamnov refused to comment on information about Kovalchua’s arrival at his headquarters. “I will leave this topic without comment for now. On October 18, there will be a press conference at which all the answers will be given, ”said the head coach of RBC Sport.
“If such a proposal comes from the national team, then of course he will consider it. But we did not discuss this topic with him, ”said the player’s agent Yuri Nikolaev to Sport24.
In the case of continuing his career, the most likely is an agreement between Kovalchuk and Ak Bars, says an interlocutor close to the hockey player’s entourage. The Kazan club scored 43 goals in the championship in 18 matches (the 13th indicator), and in terms of the majority, it takes the fourth place from the end. Only three Ak Bars players scored at least 10 points on the goal + pass system.
By inviting Kovalchuk, Ak Bars expects to solve the problems in the attack and therefore plans to offer the hockey player a contract before the end of the season.
RBC sent a request to Ak Bars.
Kovalchuk will consider an offer from the national team if received
The composition of the headquarters of the national team can be announced in part
Sources of RBC, close to one of the members of the expert council and to the FHR, say that the issue of Zhamnov’s Olympic contract will be resolved in the coming days and that he will take the team to Beijing. Consultations on the candidacies of his assistants will continue, so it is not a fact that the names of all members of Zhamnov’s headquarters will be announced at a press conference on Monday.