The Bench Bosses: Chernyshyov* Division
* = often transliterated as “Chernyshev.”
We are now not much more than a week or so from the beginning of KHL 2017-18 training camps, so it’s high time that we finished off our look at the league’s coaches. The last (though certainly not least) division to be considered is the East Conference’s Chernyshyov Division. Read on, therefore, for a group of teams that have seen a lot of turnover behind their benches in this off-season. And you will also, as a bonus, find out which of our three previous “coaches by division” posts is now out of date!
Before we leap into our look at the bench bosses in the KHL’s easternmost outposts, there has been a bit of coaching news. In the post on the Bobrov Division coaches, we discussed the prospects for Dinamo Minsk’s Craig Woodcroft. That information is now out of date — Woodcroft resigned from Dinamo last week, apparently to the surprise of the club, and the search for a replacement is now on (or rather, replacements, as Woodcroft’s entire staff also departed). Among the rumoured candidates: Belarusan coach Eduard Zankovets, who was last seen getting Barys Astana to the second round of the playoffs in 2016-17. And that very neatly brings us back to the Chernyshyov Division! Without further ado:
Admiral Vladivostok — Alexander Andriyevsky: Very quietly, the 48-year-old Belarusan Andrievsky has become one of the KHL’s longest-tenured coaches; the coming season will be his third behind the Admiral bench (he also had previous KHL experience in charge of Dinamo Minsk). He has done a reasonable job, I think we must say, getting the Vladivostokers to the playoffs in each of his two seasons so far, although they have yet to progress beyond the first round. Now, Admiral have had their financial difficulties, including wage arrears, and will have one worried eye cocked in the direction of those strategic plan criteria we discussed on Monday. Another playoff berth from Andriyevsky’s crew would go a long way towards easing any concerns about Admiral’s continued participation in the KHL. Andriyevsky’s staff: Fredrik Stillman (Ass’t), Maxim Spirodonov (Ass’t), Konstantin Vlasov (Goalies), Alexander Mikulchik (Fitness).
Amur Khabarovsk — Andrei Martemyanov: Amur’s head coach was promoted that assistant coaching ranks at Amur this past December, on the resignation of Miskhat Fakhrutdinov. While a playoff spot proved past salvaging, there were enough encouraging signs down the stretch for the 54-year-old Yekaterinburg-born Martemyanov to be entrusted with the job for the coming campaign as well. It will be first time he has a led a team through pre-season preparations; Martemyanov was briefly head coach of his hometown Avtomobilist club a few years ago, but that too was a mid-season appointment. Like their far-eastern rivals Admiral, Amur must keep an eye out that they do not drop out of the league, and while the team has been much improved over the past couple of seasons, it will be vital for Martemyanov to keep that progress going. Martemyanov’s staff: Oleg Filimonov (Goalies), Yevgeny Shaldybin (Fitness), Stanislav Basov (Video).
Avangard Omsk Oblast — Andrei Skabelka: It has been a surprising off-season at Avangard in terms of coaches, as Fyodor Kanareykin was let go despite 2016-17’s second-place finish in the East Conference and a trip to the second round of the playoffs. The Avangard brass had set the Conference Finals as the minimum acceptable progress, and so Kanareykin was out. Fortunately for Avangard, another surprising departure — that of Skabelka from Sibir (see below) — meant that a high-profile candidate was ready and waiting. The 46-year-old joins the above-discussed Andriyevsky in representing Belarus among Chernyshyov Division coaches, and is coming off three seasons in charge in Novosibirsk, the first two of which were highly successful. Avangard are a team with ambitions, and Skabelka will certainly be tasked with getting them into the final four and hopefully beyond — it’s not an impossible task, either. Skabelka’s staff: Vladimir Kopat (Ass’t), Dmitry Ryabykin (Ass’t), Nikolai Mishin (Goalies), Kirill Legchakov (Fitness).
Barys Astana — Yevgeny Koreshkov: Zankovets, discussed above with regard to the Dinamo Minsk job, did excellent work last season in rescuing Barys from a disastrous start under Andrei Nazarov and steering the Kazakh club to the second round of the playoffs. But he will not return (apparently at his own volition), and so Koreshkov returns to the job he had previously held on an interim basis in 2015-16. In the meantime, the 47–year-old Kazakh has been serving as a Barys assistant coach, so he certainly knows the club. Barys are embarking on life without their longtime big forward line of Nigel Dawes, Brandon Bochenski, and Dustin Boyd (Bochenski retired, and Boyd may leave as well), so Koreshkov most certainly has an interesting job ahead of him! Koreshkov’s staff: Galim Mambetaliyev (Ass’t), Andrei Shayanov (Ass’t), Alexander Akhtsiger (Ass’t), Yevgeny Korolyov (Ass’t), Sergei Tambulov (Video).
Kunlun Red Star Beijing — Mike Keenan: Here’s a name most hockey fans know well! Keenan comes in to replace Vladimir Yurzinov, Jr., who, in another one of the off-season’s biggest shocks, stepped down after guiding the new Chinese team to the playoffs in its inaugural season. No need (or space) to go through Keenan’s resume, except to note that he remains the only man to win both the Stanley Cup and the Gagarin Cup as a head coach. That latter triumph, of course, was accomplished during his previous KHL stint, in charge of Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2013-14. Now (and after an off-season of heavy player turnover at Kunlun Red Star), he is tasked with living up to the high standard that Yurzinov’s work set for the club in 2016-17. One way or another, it will be fascinating to see what happens! Keenan’s staff: To be confirmed.
Salavat Yulaev Ufa — Erkka Westerlund: Westerlund, who coached Finland to an Olympic silver medal back in 2006, returns to the coaching ranks after a year away. Now 60 years old, he was Jokerit Helsinki’s boss during their first two seasons in the league, and the Finnish team did quite well. In Bashkortostan, he will be in charge of removing the sour taste left by Salavat Yulaev’s struggles in 2016-17. The former champions flirted with missing the playoffs, and although that grim fate was avoided in the end, a quick first-round exit to arch-rival Ak Bars Kazan was all that Salavat Yulaev could muster in the post-season. Coach Igor Zakharkin payed for the failures with his job (he is now in charge at Ugra Khanty-Mansiysk), and now a hoped-for return to the glory days is in Westerlund’s hands. Westerlund’s staff: Hannu Virta (Ass’t), Tomi Lämsä (Ass’t), Nikolai Tsulygin (Ass’t), Vadim Tarasov (Goalies), Jarmo Koivisto (Fitness), Tomas Westerlund (Video).
Sibir Novosibirsk Oblast — Pavel Zubov (acting head coach): It was largely injuries that wrecked Sibir’s 2016-17 season and led to first missed playoffs since 2012-13, so one might have expected that Andrei Skabelka would be given another chance. After all, his three seasons in charge had seen Sibir reach the Conference Finals in 2015, and the second round of the playoffs in 2016. But Skabelka is gone (to Avangard, see above), and for now it is Zubov holding the reins, having been promoted from the assistant’s position that he had occupied for the past three seasons. This is his first KHL head coaching job, assuming that he is still in that role when the new season opens, and job in front of him is quite clear: prove that last season was indeed a mere hiccup, and that Sibir are still among the best in the East. A little extra luck in the injury department won’t hurt at all… Zubov’s staff: Andrei Tarasenko (Ass’t), Alexander Makritsky (Ass’t), Konstantin Kapkaikin (Goalies), Eduard Rabe (Fitness).
Thank you for reading!