"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."
"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).
- 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
- 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.