Ak Bars faced big problems at the start of the season, having suffered four defeats in seven games of the KHL regular season. TNV’s online editorial office names the main trends in the transformation of the Kazan club over the two seasons of Dmitry Kvartalnov’s work in Kazan.
In the third season, “Ak Bars” Kvartalnova slipped to the level of “Kunlun” and “Sochi”
On the eve of “Ak Bars” with great difficulty beat the tenth team of the Western Conference. HC Sochi is a roster of little-known young players and middle-level hockey players who are retiring. And this team did not beat Ak Bars only because of a banal lack of experience. Judge for yourself, Kazan leveled the score in the last minute of the third period, thanks to Kampfer’s crazy volley, which in official matches no longer looks like the standard of the KHL defender, as it did in the preseason games.
In overtime, Sochi were also closer to victory, “Ak Bars” was saved by the goalkeeper Timur Bilyalov, who played his first match of the season after an injury. At the start of the season, Kazan are playing at the level of Kunlun and HC Sochi, which was shown by head-to-head matches. But at the moment Kvartalnov’s team objectively does not reach the level of even the Minsk “Dynamo”.
It was especially striking that against the background of the “blockhead” game of “Ak Bars”, hockey of Minsk dwellers seemed to be an example of combination and creativity. What happened to the Kazan club during the two full seasons of Kvartalnov’s work in Kazan?
Transformation of Ak Bars in two seasons is not happy
The opening season turned out to be practically exemplary. The team showed interesting hockey, especially in the first part of the regular season, and the playoffs, as you know, were canceled after the first round due to the coronavirus. But already in the first season in the second part of the regular season, the “first signs” of subsequent degradation slipped through. In winter, the transitions of Sannikov, Galuzin, Averin and company took place. And Kvartalnov launched a feverish rotation in an attempt to attach these average players to the top KHL club.
In the second season, the beautiful game and convincing victories almost disappeared already in the regular season. Kazan often won in one goal, in overtime and shootouts with a very homogeneous hockey. But the mastery of the regular season kings Dawes and Da Costa covered all the problems. The defeat in the final clash of the playoffs of the East from Avangard can be assessed in different ways, but there is a medical fact – Kvartalnov lost all the seventh playoff matches in his career.
In addition to purely playful moments, this specialist has his own personnel style: in CSKA, Lokomotiv and Ak Bars he consistently gets rid of outstanding performers inherited from the “legacy” and fills the vacated slots with fighters of a lower level, from year to year lowering the total skill of their team.
For two years, the champion team is scrapped
In Ak Bars we see absolutely the same picture. Only five of the Ak Bars championship team remained in Kazan. It is significant that these are the destroyers of the Glukhovs, Lukoyanov, the universal soldier Burmistrov and the defender of Lyamkin. There is also Zaripov, but here Kvartalnov simply lacked the weight to get rid of the Ak Bars symbol. But Zarya plays through the match in the fourth link and now he is more of a rotation player. It is clear that such a performer is not suitable for short-track speed skating with clubs, as the former coach of the Russian national ice hockey team Vladimir Plyushchev described the game of Ak Bars in an interview with our publication.
And what about the rest of the stars of “Ak Bars” -2018? We will not analyze the reasons for their departure now. Someone believes the official versions of the Ak Bars management, others associate the losses with the figures of Kvartalnov and Yakubov, but the facts are merciless. For two years of Kvartalnov’s work in Kazan, “Ak Bars” parted with the striking unit of the legionnaires Sekach – Lander – Azevedo. This is the best link in the entire playoffs in 2018. The main characters of the second link of that team – Vladimir Tkachev and Stanislav Galiev – left the team. The latter was the team’s top scorer that season.
Not only the leaders of the attacks left the team, but also the most effective defensive hockey player in the attack – Rob Klinkhammer. Based on the results of two seasons, we can already say that even Cormier was not so useful. Vasily Tokranov, through titanic efforts, Rafik Yakubov was given to SKA back in the time of Bilyaletdinov, despite the opposition to this decision from the coach and the leading players of the team.
Well, and most importantly, it was impossible to believe in it until the summer that ended recently – Albert Yarullin moved to Chelyabinsk. The native Kazan citizen clung to the Ak Bars to the end. A year ago, he asked the club for a long-term contract, but received a handout from Yakubov in the form of a one-year contract.
None of the new “stars” in “Ak Bars” lingered
Thus, the champion team was quickly destroyed. And what did Kazan get in return? In the decisive matches of the final of the East of last season, only the destroyer Cormier played from among the legionnaires, so the bet on Dawes and Da Costa turned out to be a failure. Murphy, Vikstrand, Cormier, Frattin, Fisenko, Tikhonov, Ozhiganov, Virtanen, Reideborn – none of them stayed in Kazan for a long time and did not bring tangible benefits. The list goes on again.
Of course, it’s too early to talk about the start of the new season. However, the brightest newcomer of the club, Jordan Will, expectedly does not find a common hockey language with Kvartalnov, Lindholm is just another variation on the Cormier / Frattin theme, Kovalenko moves a lot on ice with low efficiency, Artem Galimov clearly stopped in development, and Voronkov is increasingly focusing on hit-run, not hockey. Camfer, if you take into account his yesterday’s goal and productive heroes at the pre-season tournament in Kazan, in attack looks something like Vikstrand – only more expensive and older. In defense, the ex-NHL player lacks speed. “-2” on the “plus / minus” system is not the best result for the defender of the first pair.
In Yaroslavl and Moscow they know what Ak Bars decided to go through on its own experience
Thus, during Kvartalnov’s work in Kazan, all the bright attacking players of Ak Bars left the club, as did key pupils such as Yarullin or Tkachev. They were replaced by simpler players and is it any wonder now that for the third season Ak Bars looks like a team of the level of Kunlun or, at best, Dynamo Minsk?
Ak Bars has a convenient calendar ahead, it is possible to improve things in the championship. The team will play at home against Sochi, Vityaz and Admiral. Kvartalnov’s team, of course, will not leave the playoff zone, but the game problems will not go anywhere. At CSKA and Lokomotiv, Kvartalnov was fired for the third season. It looks like the same will happen in Kazan, but most likely following the results of the playoffs, because in Ak Bars it is not customary to change coaches during the season.
The only trouble is that the team-champion of personnel has significantly depreciated and the new coach of “Ak Bars” will have to feel the well-known effect of the “scorched field”. Was it a mistake to appoint Kvartalnov to Ak Bars? Let everyone evaluate for themselves, but even before moving to Kazan, it was known that this specialist does not succeed in top clubs. In Moscow and Yaroslavl, this passed, but in Ak Bars they preferred to fill their own bumps.
Used photos: ak-bars.ru