Interesting Tikhonov interview

Discussion in 'International Tournaments' started by Slay, Aug 23, 2004.

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  1. Slay

    Slay Registered User

    May 24, 2003
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    Our most glorified coach, who several months back was considered as the main coach of the Russian national team on the World Cup 2004 shares his opinion. The conversation with Tikhonov began from memoirs on 1976 year - in fact this coach had to open the annals of the Canada Cup/World Cup


    - In 1976 our team has lost in the world championship in Poland, - Tikhonov recollects. It is now the silver at the world championship considers as a victory but that time it was unconditional defeat. And here - the Canada Cup. In Moscow coach's council took place, where Boris Kulagin (the head coach of the national team) has expressed opinion on necessity of systematic and purposeful preparation for the following world championship. It shouldn't be lost under any conditions. And the forcing of preparation that was necessary for the Canada Cup, wasn't in the plans by no means. Came up only two questions: what roster should be sent to North America and what result to expect?

    - Really in those days even for not A-team could be any other result but 1st place?

    - And why not? Coaches by their nature are pragmatists and have never suffered from facile optimism - neither at those days, nor at present. Per se, there was only one offer: to send an experimental team, the team with accent into the future. It should be combined of the players who plays for a long time for the B-team and those who achieved the success in junior team.

    You have to understand, that in the Soviet hierarchy of the hockey tournaments at that time on the first place, certainly, were Olympic games. On the second - world championship. And then the rest tournaments that were approximately close to each other - the Prize of "Izvestiya", the Prize " of Rude Pravo " and this new uknown and odd yet Canada Cup. And to sacrifice the future world championship for the sake of some transatlantic tournament no one would allow.

    Besides we realized, that Canadians and Americans will send the strongest professional rosters which were too strong for our B-team. And also, it became known, that Chechs (the world champions) will send the best roster. And pragmatic coaches comprehended, that at this time of the year with B-team to be in the top 4 would be a positive result.

    And then it became my turn on the coach?s council. And I have told, that if Tretyak will go we'll be able to fight for the third place. At that time I was the coach of the B-team, but the head coach Boris Majorov just was going to Finland, and so I came out from the council as the head coach of B-team. In general, the initiative as it is usual, appeared to be punishable and rescue of the drowning became a handwork of the drowning.


    - Tretyak went to Canada Cup...

    - Yes, and he told me: " I shall go under any circumstances ". And further undercurrents have begun. For example, in recent interview "Sport-Express" Helmut Balderis mentioned, that there was a lot of mess during the preparation to that Canada Cup and hockey players sometimes were hardly understanding what was going on. I can add to this: I as the head coach of that team sometimes was hardly understanding what was going on too. Especially concerning roster candidates.

    Here one example. It took place the tournament in Sverdlovsk, devoted to memory of the lost Air Forces team. Our A-team took part in it, and by chance I have faced on the street with one of the most well-known lines in hockey...

    - Can you tell with whom exactly?

    - It is not necessary, let will be so - one of the most well-known lines. I meet them and said: guys why wouldn't you go to Canada Cup? Best of the best from NHL will be there, will be the opportunity to watch them and to show yourself. And they answered: " Victor Vasiljevich, in our team we have our own " tsar, the God and the army chief " - Boris Kulagin. If he will allow we'll go with pleasure, if he won't, we are sorry... "

    - But Tretyak also had to listen to an opinion of the heads of the main team.

    - Means, differently listened. Undercurrents around that first Canada Cup for us was so many that now behind so many years hard recollect most of them. But I have not forgotten something. For example, I took from "Spartak" only Victor Shalimov, but couldn't take his linemates- Yakushev and Shadrin. But wanted very much. And they dreamed to get on tournament, in fact the same Yakushev after Summit Series-72 became idol in Canada. And years later I found out from Yakushev that in "Spartak" they were told: Tikhonov calls up only Shalimov, and he don't need you...

    - Times have changed, but undercurrents, seems, have remained.

    - You mean a present situation with "refusers"? Is it really undercurrents? In comparison with what we have faced in preparation to the first tournament, present so-called undercurrents - children's babble. Absolutely not that level to give them so much place on pages of newspapers.


    - Why do you think so? It would be fine if not regulars with their NHL clubs would refusing to play. But here the main goalkeeper, Fedorov and Zhamnov, the leading centers refuses?

    - In this question I am completely solidary with Vladislav Tretjak. To persuade and force such players, let even the most star players, - is too pricey for yourself and for the team. Believe, I have seen much in my coach's life. If you finally find some way to convince refusers to play for the national team everything will be fine till first lose. And after that they will start to shake the boat, to express claims, and then you may put bold cross on your team for the rest of the tournament.

    In this rule practically there are no exceptions. All coach staff of the team knows it perfectly and is not going to step on raker once again. And in this question today for our team, for example, Zubrus who will debut in the Russian uniform, in hundred times dearly than Khabibulin.

    - But the goalie position is our main problem. How many times on press conferences after games you were saying about the role and value of the goalkeeper in present hockey.

    - I was, and I am not going to refuse from my words. But I shall note, that in our coach staff we have Vladislav Tretjak, none of our rivals has such goalie specialist. Have I to remind, that on Olympics- 98 our goalie line also was not considered as strong position? But it didn?t stop us to play in the final. I think, Vladislav can prepare our goalkeepers for the main games so that they won't concede to our competitors.


    - Discussing transatlantic judges, many lances have been broken before Olympics - 2002 in Salt Lake City. But that little worm in the soul, stayed after a semifinal with the USA team and that scored or not scored our 3rd goal...

    - If you remember, before that Olympics the heads of NHL has declared, that if the final game again as in Nagano, will be without USA and Canada, the league easly can reconsider the attitude toward to Olympic games. Such thin hint. Now we can talk a lot that because of whim of fortune Canadians in a semifinal instead of the very powerful Swedes got Belorus, who executed their aim on 200% and didn't believe in their luck. And that episode in the other semifinal, the referee could look the disputable episode on the video for the sake of decency, but... The Fact remains the fact - in the final, as it was planned were USA and Canada.

    And in former years there were plenty such questions. Enough to recollect a Canada Cup - 87. Three games with the identical score 6:5, the first - in our advantage, the others - for the advantage of hosts. The final was till 2 victories, and as we have then found out, that after our victory in the first game serious work with referees took place. Two questions were left in one - commerce and a politics. Commerce badly demanded the third game, i.e. Canadians should win the second game. And the politics did not tolerate the superiority of the Russians over progenitors of hockey. And again all has turned out how it was necessary for them.

    - In those days transatlantic professional hockey felt excellently, nobody thought of any lock-outs. A forthcoming World Cup is one of the straws with which help they try to return interest of Americans to hockey. It turns out, that we don't have chances at all?

    - I admit, that in case of emergency it can happen anything. What emergency? Well, for example, if in a quarterfinal will be USA and Canada - consider, half of commercial success to a cat under a tail. Other thing, that we are not considered as serious contenders, be so, that's better for us.

    Maybe, organizers easly would include in North American group instead of Russia, for example, Germany to play without much risk. But here on the first place comes commercial interest. Will the game Canada - Germany cause the same agiotage, as game Canada - Russia? Will such game with Germans collect in Canada huge television ratings, as with Russians? More so "Russia" it is for us, but for the American and Canadian fans Russia is the ex-USSR. With all consequences following from here as satisfaction from victories.


    - It turns out, that we can?t hope on anything at this tournament?

    - Let's wait a little with conclusions. Before the final of Canada Cup - 81 nobody either put a broken cent on USSR - too powerful and unstoppable the host team looked. I think, for the whole history of Canada they had only 2 teams of such high level - in Summit Series-72 and in 81-st. Which consisted of active and rising stars and nobody of them avoided from dirty work (in good meaning). But in 1981 we had not worse team and to the final we prepared such that nobody could stop us.

    In North America is very well put educational work. Behind the ocean they know how to rise a winners. There often televised on different channels for instance the final game of Olympics -80 USA - USSR or the last game from Summit Series-72. But doubtly will ever be shown the 1st game of Summit Series or the final game of Canada Cup - 81.

    In Russia these series are shown rarely and usually all series entirely - with all victories and defeats. But such games should be seen by fans, especially those who was born later who has not tested those sensations which we have.

    - But in 81-st we have brought absolutely different team, all the best played there.

    - No, not all the best. And practically it never was at any tournament that absolutely all the best have played. Traumas, illnesses, poor physical shape for different reasons, it is pursues any team. It is possible to come close to optimum roster, but it almost never can be reached. And now hosts of the tournament make one replacement for another - does it says about optimality of their roster?

    I think the present team of Russia that preparing for the World Cup by the potential does not concede to anybody from the competitors. The most important, the team should believe, that it does not concede, to believe in itself.


    - We should as soon as possible to resolve one of the main problems of the Russian hockey. It consists in that the most star generation of ours NHL players won all possible awards long time ago. Including Stanley's Cup and Olympic gold. They already for a long time are inhabitants of heaven, and don't have the powerful stimulus to work through the pain, - but it is impossible to play otherwise at such hockey forums as the World Cup.

    By the way, it concerns Khabibulin too - after the victory in Stanley's Cup he is squeezed emotionally and will back in form not soon. Nikolay now is on Olympus, but on the World Cup he can fall from it- and it for certain disturbs the goalkeeper. Probably, here is concealed the main reason of his refusal.

    But behind that, star generation of Bure and Fedorov - a collapse in our hockey. It has arisen for many reasons, but the most important of them consists in that the majority of players have left for ocean before necessary term. They could and should grow up to the level of Bure and Fedorov, but they have gone to the league that only takes and pays very well, but practically gives nothing. Modern NHL hockey keeps basically on the European schools - Soviet, Czechoslovak, Finnish, Swedish. In NHL admits it too. The guys who left, with rare exceptions, didn't grow yet here but already could not grow there. And our hockey has lost the whole 10 years - huge term for sports.

    And the first Russian generation really ascends just now. In fact between the generation of Bure and generation of Kovalchuk we don't have neither large successes, nor the true winners. The young generation only now studies to win - both in Russia, and in NHL, and at the world level. That's why such tournament as the World Cup, is not simply necessary for our hockey, but is very necessary.

    We should, are simply have to do anything possible that with the help of so transient, but the supersaturated competition as World Cup, to learn our young guys to win. To inculcate them the taste of victories and psychology of winners. That on Olympic Games in Turin and on the following Olympic Games we had already completely other team.

    This is our way now And I do not see another one.
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2004

    ZBORNAJA Registered User

    Dec 28, 2002
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    GREat job slay.ty for interview...I totally agree on some things with Tihonov
  3. Sotnos

    Sotnos Registered User

    Jul 8, 2002
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    Not here
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    A very good read, thanks for translating it, I know that's very time consuming. Tikhonov is an interesting guy, that's for sure.

    Some harsh words for Khabibulin there, and he seems to be insinuating that a lot is going on behind the scenes at these international events. Interesting stuff! :)
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