Viktor Tikhonov (b. 06.04.1930)
USSR Sports Master (1950),
Latvian Merited Sports Coach (ZTR SSSR, 1973),
USSR Merited Sports Coach (ZTR SSSR, 1978)
IIHF Hall of Fame (builder, 1998).
- Played as Defenseman with the VVS and Dynamo Moscow
clubs; scored 35 goals in 296 games in the USSR
Elite Hockey League in 1949-1963
- Played for Team Moscow and USSR
- USSR Gold 1951-1954; USSR Cup 1952
- Dynamo Moscow Assistant Coach in 1964-1968
- Dynamo Riga Head Coach in 1968-1977
- CSKA Head Coach in 1977-1996
- Team USSR Head Coach 1977-1992
- USSR Elite League Gold in 1978-1989
- WC Gold in 1978-1979, 1981-1983, 1986, 1989-1990
- Olympics Gold in 1984, 1988, 1992 (Unified Team)
- 1979 Challenge Cup and 1981 Canada Cups
I honestly don't know where Viktor TIKHONOV was
at the time of the Series. I can easily imagine him watching
the Summit and writing something in his notebook. One
of the important things for a great coach is his ability
to learn constantly. 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.
Tarasov and 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
have only one captain. And this captain was one of them.
No other way to win.
Tarasov and Tikhonov...
They were very different. Loud, emotional and flamboyant,
Tarasov was a hockey tsar. He was perpetually inventing
something, living in a constant motion, challenging his
players, assistants, sports officials. On the other side,
Tikhonov looked emotionless, almost cold. He talked soft
and kept a distance from the others.
Tikhonov brought hi-tech of the 1970s to the Soviet hockey.
He seemed to be the first to use a VCR in the coaching
analysis. Maybe it happened because VCRs became more affordable
in the 1970s. Other coaches didn't use VCRs to analyze
the games. For what? Their notebooks had it all. Tikhonov
spent hours rewinding and fast forwarding the tapes. No
mistake could be hidden from the camera. There was no
way the tape could miss the opponents' tactical secret.
Tikhonov was a king of tactics. Even people who didn't
like him accept that there were few (if any) in hockey
world that could compete with Tikhonov's tactical vision.
At the time of the 1972 Summit, Tikhonov just got his
first head coach position. After years of apprenticeship
with the Chernyshev's
Dynamo Moscow, he was appointed to coach the Dynamo Riga
in 1971. Transition from assistant coach to the head coach
is always unpredictable. Tikhonov's transition was a miracle.
An average 2nd division team in Riga turned into a top
competitor of the Elite League in a mere 3 years. World
class talent pool in Riga was limited to magnificent Helmut
Balderis. He was outstanding but he was an exception on
the roster. Tiknonov came up with an experimental solution.
His Dynamo Riga became the first Soviet team to use 4
lines of forwards. Even the mighty CSKA had problems trying
to keep up with the speed Tikhonov's players challenged
His success in Riga wasn't left unnoticed. He coached
the "experimental" Team USSR at the 1976 Canada Cup. In
1977, he was promoted to the CSKA head coach postition
and replaced Kulagin in the
In May 1978, for the first and the last time, I saw Tikhonov
crying in front of the public. Those were the tears of
happiness - the Soviets won the WC title in Prague after
a 2-year intermission. That was the beginning of his road
to the glory.
In the years to come, Team USSR and Tikhonov will win
numerous world titles. There will be a major conflict
between Tikhonov and the CSKA stars which ended with mass
escape of the Soviet players to the NHL in the late 1980s.
There will be a painful break-up of the CSKA in the 1990s.
It will all take place in the next three decades. Back
in 1972, I just vividly picture Tikhonov patiently making
notes during Game 8 in Moscow.