Another new coach for Russia
by Martin Merk|11 JUL 2019
Alexei Kudashov (left) replaces Ilya Vorobyov (right) as head coach of the Russian national team as well as SKA St. Petersburg.
photo: Alexei Kudenko / RIA Novosti
One year ago Russia surprised the world when weeks before the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and few weeks after Olympic gold Oleg Znarok was replaced as head coach of the men’s national team with Ilya Vorobyov.

Vorobyov started as interim head coach with a sixth-place finish in 2018 but saw his contract extended by two years and led Russia to a bronze-medal win at the recent 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Yesterday he lost his job.

The new head coach will be Alexei Kudashov. And same as during the past two World Championships the national team head coach will combine the roles of coaching the national team and KHL club SKA St. Petersburg as Vorobyov was also bid farewell at SKA St. Petersburg yesterday and replaced with Kudashov.

Kudashov has been Vorobyov’s assistant coach at both teams and was responsible for the offensive play. At the national team he will continue with previous assistant coaches Alexei Zhamnov, Anvar Gatiyatulin, Rashit Davydov and Jurijs Zdanovs.

“For me it is a great honour to be head coach of the Russian national team. It’s a big responsibility and I will contribute the best possible to justify the confidence. I would like to thank the leadership of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia for this opportunity,” Kudashov said. “We maintain continuity in the coaching staff, we will continue the chosen course, making the necessary adjustments.

“The tasks of the Russian national team are well known to everybody – to develop players, win in each game and do it in our own style, showing our hockey. There is a lot of work ahead,” the new head coach said.

In a news release the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia emphasized that the coaches have met all of the demands and have achieved the targets that were given, and thanked Vorobyov for his work as the head coach and wished him success in the future.

“Based on the outcome of the World Championship we made conclusions. The staff remains practically the same because everything was done in the interests of the preparation. Vorobyov has great experience, we will nevertheless keep up contact with him,” Vladislav Tretiak, President of the Ice Hockey Federation of Russia, told Russian news agency TASS.

“Kudashov has character. He is respected, he is a very smart coach, knows the tactics. We will count on him, let’s give him a chance. We have a lot of time until the Olympics, we will look for everything new to win the World Championship and Olympics. Everything is done to win.”

Vorobyov led the Russian team to a bronze medal as head coach after a 1-0 semi-final loss to Finland and a 3-2 shootout victory against the Czechs for third place but due to the star-studded roster the expectations in Russia were higher than ever; and the expectations of winning the KHL with SKA St. Petersburg didn’t materialize either. The club was second in the Western Conference behind CSKA Moscow and lost the conference finals in seven games against the rival from the captial.

Kudashov was born in Elektrestal and won two World Junior silver medals with the Soviet Union in 1990 and 1991, represented Russia at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games and in three World Championships (1998, 1999, 2000).

He left Russia to try his luck abroad in 1993. During three seasons in North America the centre played 25 NHL games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and later played in Dusseldorf (Germany, championship in 1996) and Turku (Finland) before returning to Russia in 1998 where he ended his career with Dynamo Moscow in 2012. With Dynamo he won Russian championships in 2000 and 2012 when he immediately turned into coaching.

In 2012 he started his coaching career as assistant coach with Atlant Mytishi and was promoted to head coach just one year later. In 2015 he was appointed head coach of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl where he spent three seasons before joining SKA St. Petersburg and the Russian national team as Vorobyov’s assistant coach in 2018.