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03-25-2011, 03:19 PM
BillyShoe1721's Avatar
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I'm ridiculously tempted to select the player I was talking about to prove how much better he is in an all time context than Toews, but I'll make a much smarter, and sensible pick. The Philadelphia Firebirds are happy to select a coach that we believe has been the best coach available since Mike Keenan(and a guy that's very similar to him), a guy making his first ATD in the last 5, a guy we believe is a top 30 coach all time, head coach Viktor Tikhonov

IIHF Hall of Fame Member
Soviet Hockey Hall of Fame Member
13x Soviet League Titles, all consecutive (1978-1989)
8x World Championship Gold Medals (1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989, 1990)
3x Olympic Gold Medalist (1984, 1988, 1992)
Challenge Cup Champion (1979)
Canada Cup Champion (1981)
702-302-137 Domestic Record (.675)*
147-23-12 "Big-Game" International Record (.840)*
191-21-19 "Other" International Record (.868)*

In 1962, Chernyshev was looking for an assistant and asked Tikhonov, who impressed him as being a most serious student of the game... He became a full-time assistant, learning under the esteemed master. By 1968, the ambitious Tikhonov felt he was ready to coach his own club, but the best offer he could get was a second-division team in Riga. The offer wasn't much - an unknown, dog-division team in a hostile city. But Tikhonov accepted the challenge. He was a man consumed by hockey. For him, it was like gambling or alcoholism, an addiction. He had to win and win again - and keep winning. In Riga, he soon whipped up a win-at-all-costs mentality, as if his lowly team was fighting for the elite league crown. Pushing on his players the priorities of speed, discipline and creativity, he saw them begin to make progress. For most coaches, it would take a lifetime to make the advances that he made with the Riga team within five years.

Once in the elite division, Tikhonov's team didn't fare so well. No degree of coaching genius could compensate for the deficiencies of a team with only one real star, Balderis.

...To his disciplinarian mindset was added some room for creativity. He was experimental enough to move to four lines and he didn't try to shackle his players to a system where their individual talents couldn't flower... Few accused Tikhonov of not knowing how to use talent and no one accused him of not working hard enough. Although many players like Balderis would come to despise him, they continued, strangely, to play extremely well under him. He made many of them so bitter, it seemed, that they became determined to prove themselves - to show him.

(In the 1979 Challenge Cup) Tikhonov tried to create a relaxed atmosphere for the team in The Big Apple. The players saw the movie Superman, though most couldn't understand English. They attended an NBA game between the Knicks and the Supersonics. And, in their Manhattan hotel rooms, they had their choice of X-rated movies: "Hot Times", "The Fruit Is Ripe", or "Maid In Sweden".

Tikhonov showed boldness as a coach. In the decisive game, he had put xxx in goal for Tretiak, and xxx scored the shutout. Tikhonov also inserted the kid line of Makarov, xxx and xxx for the last game, and all three sparkled. "On the defence we told our players to keep closer to their opponents to prevent them from capitalizing on rebounds. On the attack we instructed them to make unexpected, concealed shots." He made a significant summation of developments in the different hockey worlds. "In the contest of two styles of hockey - the fast, combinational Soviet style and the tough, sometimes cruel North American one - victory went to our more progressive style. I have no doubt that, from now on in North America, more attention will be paid to the game and less to battles on ice."

...(by 1983) The Russian streak, with the one glaring interruption at the 1980 Olympics, had actually extended over six years without a tournament loss, going back to Tikhonov's first defeat as coach at the 1977 Izvestia tournament. In addition to his achievements with the national team, Tikhonov's Central Army club had perennially won the Soviet championship. The coach thus had a ready answer for any critics - the scoreboard. The only victory run that could begin to compare was Tarasov's stretch through the 1960s. But there was no competition against NHL pros at the time. The extent of the Soviet talent was such, it could be argued, that any good coach could have accomplished the same and maybe added the 1980 gold to the Soviet pile. The Swedes, the Finns and the Czechs had been losing many of their best players to the NHL. Canadian teams sent to the worlds were comprised of only the stars from the NHL dregs. But the Russians also beat the best of the pros in the decisive matches of 1979 and 1981, and in super series games. moreover, to win as consistently as Tikhonov did in those years, even against weaker, international competition, was something that few other coaches could likely have accomplished. The law of averages dictated that there would be more off-days, more upsets, more times when the opposing team got extraordinary goaltending or was phenomenally lucky. But Tikhonov's team defied the law of averages in those years. No team was supposed to be that hot.

It was Tikhonov, too, who had a hockey eye judicious enough to put the Larionov five together. The unlikely idea of the Little Larionov between Krutov and the smallish Makarov was something another national team coach might not have even been tempted to try. It turned out to be a piece of coaching brilliance. None of the five players on the unit could point to anything that Tikhonov actually taught that improved their game. But bringing them together and leaving them together to develop a degree of cohesiveness seldom seen was art enough. NHL coaches, not imaginative enough to try the five-man system, have rarely demonstrated the patience to go with a three-man forward line for as long as Tikhonov went with a five-man unit.
-The Red Machine

To the players on Team Canada and virtually every other hockey fan in North America, the Soviets were still the automatons from the Evil Empire; a soulless collection of robots who'd been programmed to excel by the black genius Tikhonov.

"All that I know of myself is that nothing was ever given me without effort, not when I first stepped out on the ice or now when I am carrying the coach's burden," Tikhonov said. "Stubborn labour, self-sacrifice, fanatical devotion to a favoured activity, tireless perfection of athletic professionalist - these are, in my understanding, the key to success for every hockey player and every athlete. And these principles I always and everywhere defend." As mentioned, a good-time Charlie he wasn't.
-Gretzky to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup

For nine years I was under the charge of... this man "Tikanoff" as they pronounce his name abroad... In May of 1989, Makarov, Krutov, xxx and I took part in a sports TV show "Arena". the conversation was sharp, touching on the impending problems and recent conflicts. In the course of this talk I named Tikhonov as a "talented coach". After that, friends and acquaintances who had seen it fell upon me. How could I make such compliments? I want to be objective. there had been some pluses.

...The Dynamo Riga team stood 14th when he took it. In his third year there it finished first and was promoted to the first division where it finished fourth in 1976... He brought with him the concept of using a fourth line, a total preoccupation with physical preparation, and an insane tempo which was in force for all three periods. This, too, he developed in Riga, where the team battled as if it were a matter of life and death, sometimes even beating the Moscow clubs.

...He did not spare himself, give him that. He worked nights on end without sleep, watching video tapes of the matches, twisting this way and that, analyzing them. You cannot take that away from him. I will not take away all the coaching talent of Tikhonov, by no means.

But the backside of the coin was his fanaticism. His was a constant round-the-clock vigil. Every action was aimed and justified by his interpretation of the single aim - victory - everything, including his inhumane conduct.

He records everything that is possible, forever writing in thick notebooks. And probably the thickest of these notes are concerned with the physical, the conditioning of the player. He supervises this aspect as one would take care of a child. I agree it is an important part of the preparation, but surely not to the repression of all else. He is not a man who likes change in this area, preferring to stay with the system he has used for years to get his players into top shape. If it is not his way, then it must not be the right way.

...Apparently he got used to having us at hand like a magic wand, and the rest did not worry him. He got lucky with us. He put together a line, and it worked from the beginning. He did not change anyone, he did not shuffle us. How would you call it? He hit the bull's eye with the first shot.

...A coach. How can one evaluate a person in this most interesting profession? Talented toiler, psychologist, teacher, theoretician, tactician... all of these things he must be in varying degrees. How would I evaluate Tikhonov? I cannot immediately define him. I cannot doubt his services in certain areas. Tikhonov strived to resolve everything himelf. His hands were unfettered, and as a coach he could do absolutely everything that was combined as necessary for the club or the National team. He broke through problems in the offices of superiors. Not everyone knew how to do this, for it demanded a particular talent. But with that talent our coach was strengthened and even without it he exercised an enormous power over us hockey players.

He knew how to place himself on top, in the CSRA, in Goskomsport, the governing body of all Soviet sport, so that they gave him unlimited power. He knew how to use that time, those structures, to bring the team together, and with that team to win. He knew how to select people for the team, although it was not that complicated when everything was under his hands, when he had unlimited opportunity.

Many remembered Viktor Tikhonov as a slave driver who endeavored to squeeze the most out of his subordinates for the sake of victory. Yet Tikhonov maintained the same standard for himself... Tikhonov expected the same dogged determination from the players he coached as he displayed... Tikhonov placed heavy emphasis on the ability of a player to work hard and to persevere and on a player's will to succeed. Preference is given to physical conditioning during workouts, even more than tactical and technical maneuvers... "I once asked a colleague how many defense systems he knew," Tikhonov recalls. "He replied, 'two.' But I know more, and a whole lot of variants."

Over the life of his coaching career, he's seen very few changes. In the first half of the 1970s, he was extremely popular in the Soviet Union. At that time he coached the provincial Riga team and was able to drag it out of the cellar of the league and all the way to fourth place. The state then gave him its blessing to take total control of the CSKA club and the USSR national team.

Tikhonov can't be compared with any of the coaches who worked during the same era. No other coach, whether in the Soviet Union, Canada, Czechoslovakia, or Sweden, acquired such national prominence. No one else was given such a clean slate to rebuild a team from the ground up. Tikhonov could only be compared with Anatoly Tarasov - the previous "monarch", who in essence wielded the same power and enjoyed the same rights.

Viktor Tikhonov is still plying his trade, turning down all other offers... Today it is with a sense of pleasure that he recalls how he managed to outstrip his competitors by about a decade back in those "golden years". He points out that NHL scouts prefer to see his weaker CSKA team than the provincial teams that are higher in the Russian standings. "The scouts are interested in whether I have thought up something new. yes - I have - you can be sure of that!"
-Kings of the Ice

He was the coach of the Soviet team when it was the most dominant team in the world.

Tikhonov is not just a good coach. He is a great coach.

He is always being compared to the great Tarasov, the "founder of the Soviet hockey." Regardless of the results of this comparison, it's a confirmation of the greatness of Tikhonov.

Both were hockey grandmasters. They dominated their hockey eras. Both were strict disciplinarians. They accepted no hockey authority other than themselves. The ship could only have one captain. And the captain was one of them. No other way to win.

Tikhonov brought high tech of the 1970s to Soviet hockey. He seemed to be the first to use a VCR in the coaching analysis. Maybe it happened because VCRs has become more affordable in the 1970s.

Tikhonov was a king of tactics. Even people who didn't like him accept that there were few(if any) in the hockey world that could compete with Tikhonov's tactical vision.

"Once we got to know Viktor Tikhonov, we knew we could follow him through fire and water."-Vladislav Tretiak

Love him or hate him, Viktor Tikhonov would, after Tarasov, have the most important positive effects on Soviet hockey since the Patriotic War.

#6 Who's the Greatest Coach of All Time?

A lot of coaches in the history of the game have become legends in their own right. I don't care what anyone says about coaches being overrated, I think a truly great one can make a difference. Take Viktor Tikhonov. Sure the Russians were hated by everyone at that time, but look at how they played. The clobbered the NHL All Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup and then routed Canada 8-1 in the '81 Canada Cup. In the '84 and '87 Canada Cups even though they didn't win they gave Canada everything they could handle. Even though he had the advantage of the communist lifestyle on his side, Tikhonov found a way to get his players to play.

Last edited by BillyShoe1721: 03-25-2011 at 04:00 PM.
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