Russia Olympic hockey coach done after poor Sochi showing
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov is finished as the Russian national hockey team coach, as expected after the host nation lost in the Olympic quarterfinals.
Bilyaletdinov told media he was ready to leave after meeting with the Russian hockey federation executive committee Wednesday, according to the International Ice Hockey Federation. His contract had expired Saturday, according to R-Sport.
Russian hockey president Vladislav Tretiak said there would be a search for a new coach without naming potential replacements.
“The Executive heard Bilyaletdinov’s progress report and liked it due to his careful analysis of games and the explanation of reasons for the poor performance of the team during the Olympics,” Tretiak said in a statement, according to Voice of Russia. “But the Executive naturally decided Bilyaletdinov’s coaching effort proved unsatisfactory, since the Russian team won no medals.
“We decided to thank Zinetula Bilyaletdinov for his work. He really tried hard, but unfortunately failed to attain the objective. The Federation is now negotiating the invitation of another head coach.”
Bilyaletdinov at first was opposed to leaving, according to Voice of Russia.
“But then I thought better of it and decided to tender my resignation,” he said, according to the report.
Bilyaletdinov, 58, led a Russian team hoping to win its first men’s hockey Olympic gold in Sochi.
But it stumbled after an opening 5-2 win over Slovenia, losing 3-2 to the U.S. in a shootout and needing another shootout to defeat Slovakia 1-0.
Russia blanked Norway 4-0 in the qualification playoffs but fell 3-1 to eventual bronze medalist Finland in the quarterfinals.
Bilyaletdinov had a memorable press conference with Russian reporters after the elimination. He said, among other sound bytes, “eat me alive right now.”
Star Alex Ovechkin has apologized for the team’s performance.
Bilyaletdinov, the Russian coach since June 2011, played for the Soviet Union team that won silver in 1980 (losing the Miracle on Ice game) and gold in 1984.
He also led Russia to a World Championship in 2012.