March 26, 2023

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Ak Bars became the strongest team in the league under Bilyaletdinov – although they did not change a single player. How is this possible

Dziuba in Loko – almost decided. There is only one nuance

Dziuba in Loko – almost decided. There is only one nuance

Life is full of burning analogies. For me, the replacement of Oleg Znarok with Zinetula Bilyaletdinov at Ak Bars is the denouement of one of the most important coaching stories of the 2010s.

Somewhere at the turn of 2013 and 2014, Russia was shaken by the approaching Olympics in Sochi, and we, a handful of hockey nerds, dreamed that Vladislav Tretyak would dream of a fairy who would advise him to replace Bilyaletdinov (the current head coach of the national team) with Dynamo Znark.

What was the matter: as we approached the Olympics, the game of the Russian team under the legend of Ak Bars became less and less bearable. The 2012 World Cup was like a fairy tale, but then – the Eurotour with its sessions of complacency “Bilyaletdinov plays well with the best line-up”, and after – the 2013 World Cup, where the best line-up (though without Malkin and Datsyuk, which is wildly important, they are centers) first lost to the French (according to a very inconvenient coincidence for everyone – in May, on the ninth day), and then in the quarterfinals he loaded from the semi-student US team 3:8 (at the moment it smelled very much of Vancouver).

In a parallel universe, Znarok earned the fame of the most lively and technologically advanced coach in the country. He took the Gagarin Cup twice in a row with the same hard-to-remember line-up (the face and team captain was Yuri Babenko, who is currently working on the Kazan bench) – and his team played evil, boldly, aggressively, in motion and in different types of pressure. Then it was definitely something new and – more importantly – fresh. There was a lack of freshness in the team.

But the fairy didn’t come to Tretiak, the federation was afraid of sudden steps even after the national team had a heavy home CPC-2013 before her eyes and came to the finish line as much as third. Bilyaletdinov stayed where he was, predictably dropped out in the quarterfinals (“we repeated the result of the last Olympics,” he said after the FHR executive committee, and I didn’t find it on the Internet, I remember that) with more or less no game and was fired immediately after it – with With ill-concealed pleasure, the federation once again shifted all the blame for the most burning defeat in its history onto the coach.

Instead of Bilyaletdinov, the national team was saddled by Znarok, and in this position they rode together Minsk-2014 – the World Championship, the victory at which Tretyak almost announced almost a revenge for Sochi. Naturally, a strong line-up from the NHL gathered there only with us, but the sound of bursting champagne corks blocked this observation. The team still played fresh, and Znarok looked like a biblical savior.

It took (God) almost 9 years – and solitaire decomposed in the reverse order, only on a slightly smaller scale. Well, you know: Znarok was appointed to capture the cup for Kazan, instead of capturing, half-life happened (clans! Burmistrov fought with Radulov!). The bosses of Kazan did not wait: in the middle of the season, Znark was fired, a short pause, Bilyaletdinov came to the bench.

The effect turned out to be similar: before, Ak Bars was closer to the line behind which the playoff participants ended, now they are leading the Eastern Conference. Tension in Kazan was relieved by a powerful, slightly wrinkled hand with barely noticeable gray vegetation.

Sorry for the long lead-in, I just wanted to talk about this analogy for a long time. And where else to do it, if not in the analysis of the new, Bilyaletdin “Ak Bars”? Yes, it is he who goes below: trends, factors, changes. In the meantime, subscribe to my channel – there I also write about hockey, only the uniforms are smaller.

Base figures: the unrealistic rise of the new Ak Bars

The most obvious part of the text. Kazan’s optimism can be counted. Under Bilyaletdinov, Ak Bars gave out a very specific breakthrough, the scale of which menacingly hangs over the figures of the Znark period and firmly shuts up anyone who would like to see a brighter game from a team with such a line-up (usually this part of the phrase is written in capslock).

After all, this was one of the complaints against Znark – the team does not play the way it should. But now it seems that no one cares how she plays – look at the numbers below and admit that when your team is scoring so many points, you don’t care how or what they play either.

The percentage of wins and points scored cannot but impress in themselves. Compared to those under Znark, they are just like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson against the background of Alexander Druz in terms of physical development and vice versa – in terms of intellectual development.

The numbers of the superclub (which Ak Bars-2023 was intended to be) against the numbers of the middle peasant. Everything is obvious here.

Clans, favorites, game of thrones

Let’s move on to anatomy and just to it. I know that you want a simple answer to the question “why does Bilyaletdinov win so confidently with the same team?”, but this is out of the question – unless you are satisfied with lies or nonsense.

Among the explanations for this breakthrough, I also read something funny: they say (it seems that we have begun to forget this word), the new coach has done away with the clans and deprived the privileges of favorites. Approximately the same people had previously said that Ak Bars’ problems were that Znark had favorites and the locker room was divided into clans.