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Viktor Tikhonov, Soviet Union Olympic hockey coach, dies at 84

Viktor Tikhonov

Soviet ice hockey legend Viktor Tikhonov stands on the edge of the scating rink of CSKA ice arena, 26 June 2003. Tikhonov has returned at the age of 73 to coach Russia’s struggling national squad after an eight year absence. The Russian ice hockey federation voted unanimously 25 June to replace Vladimir Plyushev, whose team failed to medal at this year’s ice hockey championship in Finland. Tikhonov has headed Russia’s army club CSKA for 25 years, which dominated the league through most of the Soviet era. He coached the powerful Soviet Union team from 1977 to 1994, except 1993, winning three Olympic and eight word titles, and was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation hall of fame in 1998. AFP PHOTO/ VLADIMIR BEZZUBOV (Photo credit should read VLADIMIR BEZZUBOV/AFP/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

Viktor Tikhonov, the Soviet Union Olympic hockey coach in the “Miracle on Ice” game who led teams to three gold medals, died overnight after a battle with illness at age 84, the KHL announced Monday.

Tikhonov coached the Soviet Union men’s hockey team at the Lake Placid 1980 Olympics, where it was shocked by the U.S. in the Miracle on Ice game. The Soviets won silver.

Tikhonov, known as a hard-line coach, then led the Soviets to gold in 1984 and 1988 and the Unified Team to the 1992 gold.

“The entire global hockey community has lost a great coach,” Vladislav Tretiak, who played goalie for Tikhonov, told R-Sport, according to The Associated Press. “He devoted his entire life to hockey until the last second. Even when I was with him in hospital, we were discussing what needed to be done and how, in order to raise the Russian national team to the very highest level.”

“His name will always be associated with the ‘Krasnaya Mashina,’ the ‘Red Machine,’ as we called the Soviet team,” Boris Mikhailov, a star forward under Tikhonov, said, according to the KHL. “This is a great loss for hockey and for all sports. He always thought of the young, went to meet children’s team and tried to teach them better. It is very sad that he has left us.”

Tikhonov’s grandson of the same name played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics.

“He’s just a normal grandfather,” the younger Tikhonov said in Sochi. “Always been really kind, always been really helpful. Obviously, I’ve heard the stories that he’s been a disciplinarian, but I’ve never really got it on me.”

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