RIGA – One of the greatest legends of Latvian hockey will launch a new career. Sandis Ozolins was named head coach of Dinamo Riga, Latvia’s entry in the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League.
Ozolins joined the team as an assistant coach during the 2016/2017 season and was today named head coach following a board meeting.
Ozolins is one of the few links between the Soviet-era Dinamo Riga and the club of the same name founded in 2008 to join the KHL, beside sharing the same name.
The 44-year-old started to play for the club in the top Soviet league when he was 18 and joined the team to the Friendship Tour in North America during the 1990/1991 season.
One year later he was drafted by the San Jose Sharks and played his first NHL season the year after for San Jose where he stayed until being traded to the Colorado Avalanche in 1995/1996 where he won the Stanley Cup.
One year after retiring from the NHL, the three-time Olympian, who owns a golf club near Riga, staged his comeback as team captain of Dinamo Riga in 2009/2010 and played five years in the KHL.
Ozolins will succeed Normunds Sejejs, who was the General Manager for eight years and was the team’s head coach during the last few months. Former Latvian national team player Girts Ankipans will serve as new GM.
KHL to shrink to 24 teams
The KHL will be reduced from 29 to 27 teams for the upcoming season. The league confirmed that Metallurg Novokuznetsk and Medvescak Zagreb will not play in the KHL anymore for financial reasons. Medvescak had earlier announced to return to the Austrian-based EBEL.
Metallurg Novokuznetsk will be relegated to the second-tier VHL. Three more teams will be relegated in 2018 to make the KHL a 24-team league for 2018/2019.