March 27, 2023

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15 heroes and plots of the season that we will remember: Larionov’s hockey, the Rotenberg system, bye-bye-bye and others


We have already recalled the events of the regular season that we would like to forget as soon as possible – it’s time to name those whose exploits made us happy or inspired.

Again, this is not a rating. The main character of the last championship is also up to you to choose.

Freshness. Igor Larionov

The professor has become a real salvation for the entire league.

First, he showed that open attacking hockey can also work.

Secondly, that this is possible not only in teams crowded with stars. The main thing is to create conditions for hockey players to enjoy the game.

Thirdly, Larionov showed how a modern coach should behave. His press conferences last the longest – detailed textured answers and no rudeness and bickering with journalists. And, of course, we will never forget his containers of raspberries and lettuce, which he brought with him.

Even the story of inviting the son to the team turned out in favor of Larionov. More precisely, even the Larionovs. Because Igor II proved not only to everyone around him, but also to himself, that he is an excellent hockey player and can play at such a level.

Star. Alexander Radulov

Radulov, along with Ak Bars, was slipping while Oleg Znarok was the coach, but with the arrival of Bilyaletdinov, he played out and showed that, perhaps, in the NHL he no longer pulls on a star, but for the KHL he is a top player. Even in the first half of the season, despite all the difficulties (and he was even sent to the reserve at some point), he did not sag much. And he played the second one perfectly – under Bilyaletdinov, Radulov had 29 points in 25 games, excellent chemistry in the top three with young Kazanians Voronkov and Safonov, and an amazing finishing spurt that allowed him to enter the top three scorers of the season and cut down a bonus of 90 million .

Return. Zinetula Bilyaletdinov

Well, Bilyaletdinov himself – why not a hero and not a plot? He left a well-deserved pension for the sake of the main team in his life (well, at least one of the two) and solved all the problems of Ak Bars with a wave of his hand. He accepted a depressive team, which broke up into camps, in which the majority did not work, the defense was constantly mowed down. And from the second game, she gave out a series of five victories.

From a team that was hanging on the border of the cup eight, Bilyaletdinov made the leader of the conference in a month and a half . It remains only to win the cup – after all, they are so lacking in his collection.

Wall. Nikita Serebryakov

In 2022, many great legionnaires left the league, including goalkeepers – Lars Johansson, Harri Syateri, Juha Metsola, Shimon Grubets and others. This is a blow to the status of the KHL, but also a chance for our own. “Admiral” and Nikita Serebryakov took advantage of this chance. In Vladivostok, they built a strong defensive team, which would not have been possible without a wall-like guy at the gate.

Serebryakov ended up topping the league in save percentage (94.4%) and second in safety factor (1.79 – only Daniil Isaev is better at 1.60). In terms of the number of shutouts, he shares the second place with five goalkeepers. And this is in the Admiral! Yes, the team is defensive, but very limited in capabilities and modest in composition, as evidenced, for example, by the worst performance in the entire league (131 goals, even Sochi has more).

This is a vivid example of a team in which the goalkeeper is about half. If Serebryakov does not slow down in the playoffs, then Salavat will be tormented by him to score.

System. Roman Rotenberg

You can joke about Roman Rotenberg as much as you like, remember how many matches he watched, count how many times he says the word “system”, but the main thing that happened to him this season (so far) is the first place of his team in the regular season. By a wide margin.

Newcomers are great at SKA: Nikishin, Khairullin, Yashkin, Zhafyarov – all of them showed plus or minus their best hockey this season. SKA develops the young and not so young quite well: Khusnutdinov made a real breakthrough, Volkov, Zykov, Glotov and Bardakov had the best season in their careers.

And whether we like it or not, this SKA was built by Roman Rotenberg. His system works .

Sniper. Ilya Konovalov

Not getting a chance at Edmonton, Ilya returned to the KHL and had a great season at Dynamo. But that’s not why he’s here.

The main story of Konovalov happened on January 18 in a game with Torpedo – Ilya became the fifth goalkeeper in the KHL in all 15 years, on whom a goal was recorded, and only the second who scored himself , with a direct throw.

Tu-tu-tu. Andrey Martemyanov

Despite the blurred ending, Sibir left a good impression of the season – at some point they climbed to the first place in the East and played great even against the tops. And this, of course, is the merit of Andrey Martemyanov, under whom the Russian players (Alexander Sharov, Vladimir Butuzov, Valentin Pyanov, Nikita Korotkov) showed up great and the legionnaires (Taylor Beck and Trevor Murphy) fit in great – all updated personal performance records.

But not only the results pleased the coach. He became a real generator of memes: “bye-bye-bye”, “ornate hockey” and so on. He also took part in the initiatives of the media service with pleasure: he clung to the microphone during the game, put on a tie in the form of a carrot and posed with goods from the fan shop. As a result, there was an image of a good coach and a cheerful uncle . But bye-bye-bye – it’s just for centuries.

Rent. “Amur”

The Khabarovsk team fought for the playoffs until the very end, but lost. And unlike Traktor, which also did not make it into the top eight, the modest Amur squeezed the maximum out of the existing squad. And it was right close – the Far East periodically went in eighth place.

And one of the important components of Amur’s relative success was summer leases – so the team was replenished by Yaroslav Likhachev from Lokomotiv (15+12 per season), Sergey Dubakin from Siberia (14+15) and Nikita Grebenkin from Metallurg ( 9+17). All three ended up in the top 4 scorers of the team. It’s bad, of course, that next season you will have to collect a new backbone. “Amur” pumped young players for other teams, but he himself was left with nothing. But for the work this season, the selection department and the coaches of the team are definitely a plus.

Foreigner. Dmitry Yashkin

This, of course, is ironic in a sense, but Dmitry Yashkin is in fact a foreigner, of whom, by the way, there are not so many left in the KHL. He has a Czech passport, and until last year he played for the Czech national team.

Dmitry is a great fellow: he did not become limp after the second unsuccessful entry into the NHL and a serious injury, due to which he missed almost a year. He recovered, returned and again dominated the KHL, as he had previously paired with Vadim Shipachyov in Dynamo. Yashkin became the top scorer (40+22) and the best sniper of the season. Not only that, he is also the best in power techniques – well, just an analogue of the peak Ovechkin. A universal soldier who will now drag SKA to the Gagarin Cup.

Style. Libor Shulak

Another representative of the “Admiral” in this list. The defender of the Vladivostok club was remembered this season for his colorful hair and unusual New Year’s suit, in which he arrived at the game.

But on the ice, Shulak is also good – he is the best sniper among the defenders (13 goals) and the third playing time (22:59). That is, he can be called the second most important player of the Admiral after Serebryakov.

Bus. Leonid Tambiev

Probably, with “Admiral” bust, but since there is a nomination and there is an obvious success, it’s a sin to pass by. It is impossible not to admit that Tambiev built an incredible defensive machine.

But he got a team that was returning to the league after a year-long absence with an incomprehensible composition. And yet he never worked in the KHL . With such input, getting into the playoffs in the first full season is already a feat. Well, let the bus – but it goes.

Future. Alexander Nikishin

There is no news here, Nikishin is the best defender in the league today. In the summer, he moved to St. Petersburg from Spartak already as a national team player and for a huge compensation of nine players, among whom there were quite serious talents. But the season showed that SKA hit the jackpot, and Spartak sold cheap.

Best scorer among defenders (11 + 44), top 10 among all players, the best assistant in the league, fourth in time (22:50). And this at 21! If not for the contract with SKA until 2025, Nikishin would have played in the NHL for the Carolinas next fall. There is simply zero doubt about it.

Joker. Anton Kislitsyn

In November, Neftekhimik had a problem with goalkeepers – Tikhomirov, Sudnitsyn and Garipov were injured, and by that time they had managed to part with Murygin. And there was simply no one to put on the match with Vityaz – but the goalkeeping coach from the youth team came to the rescue.

Anton Kislitsyn has retired two years ago, and has never played at the KHL level. He worked with the goalkeepers of the “Reactor” when the pipe called him to save the “Neftekhimik”.

He conceded already in the third minute, but the miracle happened anyway : Neftekhimik won 5:4, and Kislitsyn made 25 saves! And he said later that he was not very pleased: “There were a lot of mistakes, I could have played better.”

Arena. Omsk

Avangard was absent from Omsk for a long time, even managed to win the Gagarin Cup in Balashikha, but finally returned home in the autumn. For the sake of this moment, I even had to endure 12 away matches in a row at the start of the season. But it was worth it (although Dmitry Ryabykin may not agree) – Omsk residents got the coolest arena, made according to all modern standards: close proximity of the stands to the boards, cool locker rooms and bright lighting.

Omsk was lucky that the arena was handed over on time, because in neighboring Novosibirsk it is still not ready. Fans reciprocated: Avangard had the best average attendance at the end of the season – 11,527 spectators with 96.1% occupancy.

Fighter. Ivan Miroshnichenko

The 19-year-old striker has only played 23 games this season, but that is not the measure of his biggest win. In March 2022, Ivan was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and his participation in the new season was generally a big question.

He underwent a course of treatment and was admitted to training in June, and at the end of October he went on the ice in the MHL. In December, Miroshnichenko was promoted to the main team , in which he is gradually getting used to: 3 + 1 – not bad for a debut and incomplete season. A vivid example of endurance and will.