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Russian sports minister stresses need for ice hockey development concept

March 09, 2014, 15:46 UTC+3 SOCHI
Mutko is confident that the chief coach of the national ice hockey team needs to be free from any obligations to his club when the most important sports event is just round the corner
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© ITAR-TASS/Valery Sharifulin

SOCHI, March 09, 15:39 /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s ice hockey community should work out a common concept of national ice hockey development aimed at avoiding the mistakes made in Sochi at the next Olympics that will be held in South Korea, Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Itar-Tass.

The Sochi Olympic Games were unsuccessful for the Russian ice hockey team which lost to Finland 1-3 in the quarterfinals. Chief coach Zinetula Belyaletdinov left his post afterwards as his labour contract was not extended. Moscow’s Dinamo coach Oleg Znarok is expected to occupy the vacant position.

“I would not dramatize the situation because of the defeat but we must not turn a blind eye on the problem either,” the minister said. “Today’s task is to appoint a coach who will take the team to the World Championship in Belarus this May.”

The Ice Hockey World Championship is to take place in Minsk from May 9 through 25.

“He doesn’t need to work only at the world championship. Let him just work as a coach of an ice hockey club and of the national team simultaneously for a while,” he said. “The next stage will include preparations for the 2018 Olympics as they require a different approach to work and a different mechanism of actions. The two-year period ahead of this kind of competitions is a key term for preparations.”

Mutko is confident that the chief coach of the national ice hockey team needs to be free from any obligations to his club when the most important sports event is just round the corner.

“Most of our players perform for the National Hockey League and if the coach is not relieved of other duties, he will be incapable to possess all the information about their conditions,” the Russian sports minister said.

“Have a look at Fabio Capello’s work with the Russian national football team,” Mutko said. “He has everything at hand without distracting attention on any other concerns and we need the same type of Capello for ice hockey.”

“Accumulating all the potential at its disposal, the team must perform more successfully than at present,” he said. “I’m certain of it.”

Mutko thinks the problems Russian ice hockey faces can be untangled.

“Of course, we have difficulties starting from economic nuances and finishing with the game quality,” he said. “Coaching staff and training of the youth raise our concerns, too. Nevertheless we should work calmly on these problems without arguing and making loud statements.”

“The leadership sets a task and the coach resolves it,” the minister said. “I know it myself as I was a club’s president for so many years as that’s the system we have. Now we can draw conclusions from the results of the Olympics.”

“As soon as the World Championship is finished, we’ll meet with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation to ponder how to make things right,” Mutko said. “I’m acquainted with all club owners and they are extremely devoted to hockey. But the common concept of ice hockey development is in the cards. And if we fail, we’ll show the same result in South Korea as we did in Sochi.

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