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Russia men’s hockey coach quits month after Olympic title

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 16

GANGNEUNG, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 25: Gold medal winners Olympic Athletes from Russia lift head coach Oleg Znarok over center ice after defeating Germany 4-3 in overtime during the Men’s Gold Medal Game on day sixteen of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games at Gangneung Hockey Centre on February 25, 2018 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images)

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MOSCOW (AP) — Oleg Znarok has stepped down as coach of the Russian men’s hockey team less than two months after leading it to its first Olympic gold medal in 26 years.

Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak told Russian news agencies that Znarok “got tired psychologically” and will be replaced by Ilya Vorobyov for next month’s world championship, though he will still work with the team as a consultant.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the switch would be permanent.

Playing as “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” Znarok’s team beat Germany 4-3 in overtime for the gold medal in PyeongChang at the first tournament since 1994 without NHL players.

The last Russian team to win gold was the post-Soviet Unified Team in 1992. Znarok’s was the first to win gold exclusively representing Russia.

Znarok, 55, was hired in March 2014 to replace Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, who in Sochi led a Russian team that underwhelmed and was eliminated in the quarterfinals.

Znarok played for the Soviet Union and, after its breakup, was captain of the Latvian national team. He later coached Latvia at the 2010 Olympics, where it lost all four of its games with the worst goal differential in group play.

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