MOSCOW — Russia hired Valery Bragin as coach of the men’s national hockey team on Friday as it gears up to defend its Olympic title in 2022.
Bragin moves up from his longtime role in charge of the Russian under-20 team, which he led to the silver medal at this year’s world junior championships.
The Russian Hockey Federation didn’t say for how long Bragin’s contract runs. Bragin said his main aim was to prepare the team for next year’s world championships with a focus on players from outside the NHL.
Bragin replaces former Toronto Maple Leafs player Alexei Kudashov, who moves into a consultant role with the national team after 11 months as head coach.
Bragin also takes over from Kudashov as head coach of club team SKA St. Petersburg, whose operations are tightly intertwined with those of the national team. Roman Rotenberg is the general manager for both teams and holds vice president roles in both the club and the federation.
Rotenberg said in a statement that Kudashov “cannot currently put his full focus on coaching work.” He did not elaborate further.
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Igor Larionov replaces Bragin in charge of the junior team.
Russia’s players won the men’s hockey gold medal at the 2018 Olympics under the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” name after the country was officially barred from the games for doping offenses.
O, Dear: Russia fined $85K for skipping Canadian anthem
Remember when Russian hockey players stormed off the ice instead of sticking around for Canada’s national anthem after a drubbing at the 2015 World Hockey Championship? Apparently that gesture will come at a cost beyond making Matt Duchene really, really mad.
(As you may remember, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and some other players did stay out for at least a portion of the ceremony, so it wasn’t necessarily a team-wide action.)
Here’s a portion of the release, which is soaked in somewhat amusing legalese:
The panel is of the opinion that the occurrences on the ice show that this is not a result of an unfortunate misunderstanding. The Russian players and officials left the ice after a short discussion between the Russian team captain and some Russian officials and the unmistakable head gesture of the captain. It was also noted that the Russian team and management should have been aware of the postgame/victory and closing ceremony procedure because of their vast experience with IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships. The open gate was irrelevant.
Therefore the violation of the IIHF Championship Regulations should be sanctioned by a fine as provided in Articles 5.1, 5.2 of the Disciplinary Code.