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).
Player's Career:
- 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
Coaching Career:
- 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 them with.

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 national team.

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.