"It was interesting to play for Tarasov. However, it was hard. It was very hard. But, it was worth it. You couldn't really relax with him, make a joke or something. You always felt stiff with him."

Valery Kharlamov

"There are no great coaches or players that don't have a remarkable personality. But even among them, I have to give Anatoly Tarasov a special credit. I think he was a villain character. He was like Maciavelli or Loyola, he had absolutely no moral principles. In my opinion, he wasn't a great coach but a great personality. In the Soviet system, he was like a fish in the ocean - he did whatever he wanted to do. He was a great sinner and a great personality too."

Yevgeny Rubin, Soviet Sports Writer


Anatoly Tarasov (12/10/1918-06/23/1995),
USSR Merited Sports Master (ZMS, 1949),
USSR Merited Sports Coach (ZTR, 1956),
Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto (1974, builders category),
IIHF Hall of Fame (1997, builders category).
Player's Career:
- Played as a Center Forward with the Red Army clubs, scored 102 goals in 100 games in the USSR Elite Hockey League in 1946-1953
- USSR Gold 1948-1950
- USSR Elite League Scoring Leader in 1947
- Besides hockey, played in the USSR Soccer and Bandy Elite Leagues.
Coaching Career:
- CSKA Head Coach in 1947-1960 and 1961-1974
- USSR Gold - 17 times
- Team USSR Coach in 1958-1972
- World Championship Gold in 1963-1971
- European Championship Gold in 1963-1970
- Olympics Gold in 1964, 1968, 1972


Whenever I think about Anatoly TARASOV, the words of my professor in Theater Arts University in Moscow come into my mind:

"Arthur, get ready for the time when you'll become a theater director and no one will like you."

In a way, it's true for the coaches in the elite hockey of the Soviet times. Their success was measured not by who personally liked or personally disliked them. On Tarasov's level, it was mostly about his winning track, gold medals at the Olympics, World and National Championships. Looking back from nowadays to his time in hockey, one can be easily appalled by his coaching methods. He was a dictator. Hockey players were treated like chess pieces in the game that Tarasov played. Whether one played for the Team USSR or the Red Army club, he demanded total dedication to HIS hockey and HIS team. Things like personal matters, being tired, impossible training or game tasks simply had never been accepted by Tarasov. He was ruthless on his road to success. Some players were psychologically broken by his methods. Some managed to become champions.

Tarasov was a legendary coach. In a way, he was the "father" of the Soviet hockey. Together with the other legendary coach, Arkady Chernyshev from Dynamo Moscow, Anatoly Tarasov laid down the foundation of what now is branded as the "Soviet hockey school". Although most experts refer to Tarasov's innovations in the theory of the game, he wasn't exactly a typical scholar. He was rather a practical coach who relied more on his instincts than on what was written in the books. He was definitely very innovative but, as descibed by one of the famous Soviet journalists of that time, Tarasov didn't read much and mostly listened to the radio. It's interesting that the "father" of the Soviet hockey got his Ph.D. in Education with only a high school diploma for his educational background.

Both Tarasov and Chernyshev retired from coaching the national team after the Soviet squad won the gold at Olympics in Sapporo in 1972. It was Vsevolod Bobrov and Boris Kulagin that led the Team USSR at the 1972 Summit, but most of the players were still graduates of Tarasov's hockey universities. Whether one likes or doesn't like Tarasov's approach to hockey, it doesn't seem to be fair to underestimate the role of one of the greatest Soviet coaches while paying tribute to the impressive performance of the Soviet team in September 1972.