Nazarov, Keenan and Pokovic leave their KHL teams

Nazarov, Keenan and Pokovic leave their KHL teams

Marco Meneghetti18 Oct 2015Marco Meneghetti»

Big news coming from Russia as the three coaches have left their respective posts.


This week has been nothing but interesting in what concerns the KHL side of the ice hockey world: it is really recent news that Andrei Nazarov and Mike Keenan, coaches respectively of SKA St. Petersburg and Metallurg Magnitogorsk, have left the positions they had in the two Russian clubs. Lubomir Pokovic, the Slovak coach of Dinamo Minsk, has left as well.

Nazarov, after the relatively unsuccessful first part of the season, has been fired from his duty of SKA coach; the reigning KHL champions are currently well behind the top places in the general table, holding a negative record of eleven wins and twelve losses overall. Still, they are placed eight in the Western Conference, well out of the bottom zone; anyways, the team owners and staff made pretty clear that the results reached by now under Nazarov were well beyond everyone's thought. 

As Gennady Timchenko, the club's president, said:

In employing Andrei Nazarov, we knew that it would be a new challenge not only for him, but for the club too. It's not easy to take charge of a championship winning team and lead it to new victories. Unfortunately, SKA's results in the first half of the KHL regular season do not allow us to continue our partnership.

Nazarov recognized some errors in his way of coaching, and publicly thanked Timochenko for the opportunity. Igor Kalyanin, his assistant, has left as well, and they are currently being replaced by Sergei Zubov and Alexei Yarushkin. Zubov, who played for SKA until 2011, has been recently named defensive assistant of the Russian national team, and he's widely considered as one of the strongest Russian-born NHL defensemen. SKA won today's match against Lada Togliatti 2-1.

Mike Keenan, the first coach in history to win both the Stanley Cup and the Gagarin Cup, has left as well, despite the not so bad situation of Metallurg until now: according to some media reports, the Canadian was considering to obtain a Russian citizenship to be able to be chosen as the new head coach of the Russian national team, but that was strongly denied by the Russian ice hockey federation. Interestingly enough, Metallurg won today as well, beating Traktor Chelyabinsk 4-3 during the overtime. Apparently, Keenan's imprint on the style of play of the team has been lately deemed as "inappropriate" and thus not suited to an ultimate victory.

 As for Pokovic, very little information has been disclosed: it is anyways sure that his acting substitute on the bench will be Andrei Kovalev, his former assistant.

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