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6 strong-willed victories, a goal with an ass and a steal on the day of the final. How Russia won the second World Cup in a row

Bern 2009 is the last triumph of the team of Bykov and Zakharkin.

In previous episodes:

  • 1993. How Russia first won the World Hockey Championship
  • 2000. The worst World Cup of the Russian team: background and details
  • 2008. How Russia won the World Cup in Canada

In just the fourth year of coaching, Vyacheslav Bykov achieved what more experienced coaches – from Tikhonov to Plyushchev – could not do for 15 years. The gold of Quebec changed both Bykov and the attitude of the hockey family towards him, as he called the same community – from Plyushchev to Tikhonov. 

Bykov himself became more rigid and demanding, and the attitude towards him became at first wary, and then negative: and it’s not just envy. 

Just six months after the gold of Quebec, Bykov was attacked by a leak about awards for the Eurotour

At the 2008 World Cup, the team flew on a regular scheduled flight, trained in bad conditions, and the organizers fed the players at Pizza Hut – like a team of schoolchildren. Any coach would like better conditions, but who cared about the wishes of, say, Mikhailov in 2002 or Krikunov in 2005? 

But after gold-2008 Bykov could demand anything. He received direct access to the ruling tandem and, at the same time, a monetary fund for the development of the national team, which probably offended Tretyak and Fetisov: they gave him a chance, they supported him after bronze 2007, and now he is on a par with them and receives separate funding. 


In addition, after Quebec, Bykov updated almost the entire headquarters and replaced general manager Igor Tuzik with Anatoly Bardin, who was temporarily suspended a few weeks later due to the death of Alexei Cherepanov. At an open training session before the 2008 Karjala Cup, Bykov announced that he himself is now the general manager

All this led to the fact that after the first victory in the Finnish tournament, journalist Pavel Strizhevsky, with all the reservations that insure against a lawsuit, wrote in Sport Express: Bykov and Zakharkin wrote themselves three times more bonuses for the Eurotour than the players.

Later, specifics appeared: for the last stage – 07/08, the coaches allegedly received $ 7,500 each, and the forward Afinogenov – $ 2,000. It’s not just a crime, but there is no injustice either: different levels of responsibility – different money. But at first, superficial glance, Bykov, of course, was exposed as a grabber.


It took our hockey family just six months after the victory in Quebec to tarnish the national team coach with at least something, even the most primitive drain (how else to call the distribution of payroll to journalists?). And this situation spoke more not about Bykov, but about why the national team had not known victories at the World Cup for 15 years before him.  

After leaving CSKA, Bykov and Zakharkin promised to work next season only with the national team – and after 40 days they accepted Salavat

A month before the leak about the awards, Vyacheslav Fetisov ceased to be the head of sports (replaced by Mutko), and a month after the note in SE, he stepped out of the shadows and attacked Bykov and Zakharkin from the height of the head of the KHL board of directors. 

He reproached them for gathering the best players for a “training tournament” (Channel One Cup): “I understand the motivation of coaches: there is a conflict of interest, and all our conflicts are related to financial issues. Now, in order to use the money allocated for the national team, it is necessary to win everything in a row. 


The resentment that others are now mastering is too obvious here, so let’s highlight something else: the hockey family began to wet Bykov 2.5 years before his first World Cup without medals. 15 months before 3:7 from Canada in Vancouver. And six months before the scandalous departure to Salavat. 

Zakharkin’s words made him scandalous 40 days before his appointment to Ufa: “We made a mutual decision to leave CSKA. In the new season, we have to work at the Olympics, and we would like to fully focus on the preparation of our team. We will not work with clubs in the 2009/10 season.”

And Bykova : “We are completing cooperation with CSKA and will concentrate on preparing the Russian team, including for the upcoming Olympics in Vancouver.”

On the evening of the same day when these statements came out, Bykov – after the training of the national team – did not answer the question so clearly whether club work before the Games was excluded: “I can’t say yet. Now we have done so. Now we need to digest and think about it all.”

And if he had said only this, there would have been no scandal. In the 2009 playoffs, CSKA went further than Salavat, but everyone understood that it was more convenient to fight in the KHL for the same places as at the world championships in Ufa: there is stupidly more money there.


Hockey CSKA (especially after the financial crisis) was rather a burden for Norilsk Nickel, but even in those conditions, Bykov and Zakharkin achieved a lot: they came to the middle club and finished in the top 5 in the second year, and then there was a sensational semi-final in 2007 and third place in the 2008 regular season.

Is it possible after that to change the club for a step forward is not a question at all (for everyone except CSKA fans).

Whether it is necessary to focus on the national team before the Games and give up regular coaching for a year in order to scout for a 12-day tournament is a more debatable question, but in the status of world champions, Bykov and Zakharkin would have won this dispute as well.

After all, how did it happen with the discussion about calling the best to the Eurotour: Fetisov’s attack was supported by a member of the KHL board of directors, Igor Larionov, who said that the Channel One Cup should be used to test youth. 

Bykov replied : “Now we need to understand what we want. Strong national team or split. Understand, we do not check our players, we do not conduct tests. We’re not doctors. We are coaches and create a team with the spirit of winners.

If they want to attract only young players to the games for the national team at the Eurotour, then, probably, it is better for another coach to work with this team.”


A calm, reasoned, moderately formidable answer – and the world champion was left behind for a long time with this topic. But a few months later, a new one arose, with the departure of CSKA, and a careless promise against the background of rumors about Ufa forever surrounded the hockey tandem with an atmosphere of intolerance.

Although, for the excessive ambition for our hockey, Bykov and Zakharkin would probably have been hunted down even without the story with Salavat. 

 – Why did you leave CSKA in the spring of 2009 and promised not to work with clubs in the 2009/10 season? – I am interested in Igor Zakharkin after 14 years.

 – The sponsor and head of CSKA told Slava and me that there could be problems with the financing of the club, and recommended that we concentrate on working in the national team. We understood how important and difficult the Olympics would be, and we really decided to give our full attention to the national team.

For a few weeks we really stuck to this plan, and then we realized that we needed regular work.

 – How did you understand it?

 – We had some ideas, we drew something on the board, moved the chips, but all this required a practical solution. It became clear that working only with the national team was the wrong move. We did not understand how to use the time without practical work.


 – Were you ready for a negative reaction to the transition to Salavat after the words about the focus on the national team?

 – We reacted very little to the external environment – maybe this is one of our shortcomings. We did not want to please anyone or go against anyone’s opinion, but simply did as we saw fit.

Having received an offer from Salavat, we discussed with Slava and decided that it was more correct – in Ufa, conditions are better and there are more potential collections.

After the start of the 2009 World Cup, goalkeeper Eremenko complained about the special attitude towards NHL players

Before the 2009 World Cup, other questions arose for Bykov. 

For example, Bryzgalov, according to journalist Alexei Shevchenko, for the second year in a row was not eager to play at the World Cup – especially when he was not guaranteed the status of the main one. Nabokov, on the other hand, had time in Bern at best by the second stage, but the coaches wanted more clarity with the goalkeepers than in 2008 , and Bryzgalov was nevertheless persuaded. 


This upset the first number in the Eurotour, Alexander Eremenko: “It’s hard morally,” the Salavat player said two days after Bryzgalov’s shutout in the first World Cup match (with Germany – 5: 0). – I don’t know how it happens: from year to year I made my way into the squad, and here people come and immediately get this place.

Maybe if one of the coaches came up to me and explained why this happened, it would be easier. Here, in principle, everything is clear, but it seems to me that it would be more correct if the conversation took place. 

The confrontation between the Enkhaelites and the players of Russian clubs is inevitable, this has been the case from year to year. At some point it went away, but now it’s back again. I think all the guys are well aware that NHLers will come and be in the team, regardless of how they perform there.

On the same day, Eremenko came out against France (7:2) and missed from the third throw, but Bykov supported him: “Sasha is not to blame for the missed goals. He played well. It’s not easy to act when most of the match is played in the opponent’s half.” 


Defender Vitaly Proshkin went further: “We framed our goalkeeper.” In the next match – with Switzerland – Bryzgalov was already framed: ours conceded after the removals of Frolov and Vishnevsky and after the first period were inferior 1:2. 

After the second missed puck, Bykov was indignant that they ignored the blocking of Kovalchuk, who could run one on one, but in the end he calmed down himself and calmed the players who reacted too aggressively to the judges.  

Goals by Kovalchuk, Morozov and Perezhogin ensured Russia a 4-2 victory, and at the press conference Bykov talked more about the swine flu than about mistakes in defense (against the backdrop of the refusal of Columbus defender Fyodor Tyutin):


“I heard that there are already cases even in Russia. But if IIHF President René Fasel is concerned about this problem, convenes a press conference, then he will protect the participants of the World Championship. Yes, and our doctors will be on the alert. 

But the topic is new – I don’t even know if it is necessary to be vaccinated. Now we have a global crisis, then swine flu. Rather, this cloud would have passed by.

Bryzgalov went to the quarter-finals by tram, not by the bus of the national team – and missed three in the period

In the next game – with the Swedes – the fire in the defense intensified and led to five goals in Bryzgalov’s goal, and our defenders were more successful in attack than in clearing a penny: Proshkin, Nikulin and Kalinin scored twice. Instead of goals from Saprykin and the declared Mozyakin, this led to a valid 6:5.

Two days later, Russia again issued a strong-willed victory: at the beginning of the game with the United States, Bryzgalov blundered Stempnyak’s throw, but then ours converted the majority three times and won 4:1, and before the playoffs they also defeated the team of Oleg Znarok – 6:1 (the first victory over Latvia since 1998). 


Goal by Oleg Tverdovsky of Latvia

Oleg Antonenko, who played with Znark in the HC MVD, almost avenged the club coach in the 1/4 finals. With his participation, Belarus took the lead twice and equalized the score (3:3) before the second break. For the third period, Bykov released Eremenko instead of Bryzgalov, who for some reason arrived at that match not in the national team bus, but by tram. 

“Apparently, today was not Bryzgalov’s day,” suggested Vyacheslav Bykov after a nervous victory 4:3. – In order not to tempt fate, we decided to replace the goalkeeper. Sasha had a very good last match with Latvia.

What did you say to the guys before the third period? It was necessary to play just as calmly. Do not panic. The opponent counterattacked dangerously, so we needed concentration at our own goal. We believed in the strength of the guys, and this confidence is transferred to the players.”