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Longtime d-man Ozolinsh named head coach of KHL club

Sandis Ozolinsh #8

20 Feb 2000: Sandis Ozolinsh #8 of the Colorado Avalanche moves with the puck during the game against the Dallas Stars at the Pepsi Cener in Denver, Colorado. The Stars defeated the Avalanche 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allsport

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Sandis Ozolinsh, the veteran blueliner that played nearly 900 games with six different NHL clubs, has been named the head coach of KHL club Dinamo Riga.

Riga made the announcement on Monday, promoting Ozolinsh from assistant coach. It’s been a pretty quick ascension up the coaching ladder for the 44-year-old, who was still playing for Dinamo as recently as three years ago.

Ozolinsh replaces outgoing head coach Normunds Sejejs, who was also serving as GM. The club is coming off a difficult season in which it won just 11 times in 60 games. Riga employs a pair of ex-NHLers in Colton Gillies and Tim Sestito.

A talented offensive defenseman on the Avs team that won the Stanley Cup in ’96, Ozolinsh was named to the NHL All-Star team seven times during his career, and finished as a Norris finalist in ’97.