RIGA – The Latvian Hockey Federation released the entire team staff of the men’s national team after Latvia’s 13th-place finish at the 2011 IIHF World Championship where they escaped relegation only in the last game.
Head coach Olegs Znaroks, assistant coaches Harijs Vitolins and Leonids Beresnevs, and general manager Sandis Ozolins were relieved from their duties following the LHF’s board meeting on Monday.
The decision came after the country’s worst finish since joining the Top Division in 1997. The 13th place at the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia equalled the results in 2001 and 2007 where Latvia also had to play in the relegation round.
The moustachioed Russian-born coach who represented Latvia in five World Championships (three in the Top Division) as a player was hired back in the 2006-2007 season.
His biggest accomplishment came in the 2009 Worlds in Switzerland when Latvia reached the quarter-finals and finished in seventh place to match the best placement, also reached in 1997 and 2004.
Since 2008, Znaroks has also been coaching MVD Balashikha and Dynamo Moscow in the Russian KHL, leading MVD to the finals in 2010.
The new coaching staff of the Latvian national team will be named by 1st November.
No changes were made at the junior team levels as both the U20 and the U18 national teams earned promotion to the Top Division for the 2011-2012 season.