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It was a miracle! How the great Tarasov got into the NHL

Most Russian hockey fans associate Vancouver with Pavel Bure. Russian Rocket in the early 90s won the hearts of Canadians with his flights and beautiful goals, any newcomer to the Canadian club is still involuntarily compared with him, hoping that someday they will have another such player. But even before Bure and even before Igor Larionov, the legendary Soviet coach Anatoly Tarasov managed to work with Vladimir Krutov in the Canucks. And although he spent a total of only a few weeks with the team, there are many interesting memories of that time.

Hockey America was crazy about Tarasov for several decades, and for her, it was he, and not Viktor Tikhonov or Arkady Chernyshev, who was the most successful and influential coach from the USSR. What can I say if he was included in the Hockey Hall of Fame back in 1974.

Even before the 1972 Super Series games, coaches from the United States and Canada were so impressed with the performance of the Soviet team that they wrote letters to Tarasov asking him to share the secrets of tactical and technical training. One of them was Lou Vairo, who has been called the godfather of American hockey. He even had to take out a bank loan in order to fly to Moscow and listen to Tarasov's lectures live, and he remembered one of Anatoly Vladimirovich's advice for the rest of his life. “Lou, if you want to be a good coach, never copy after others. At best, you will get a cheap reproduction. Take the best from other schools, but study and develop the strengths of your players. Don't be afraid to try something new. And never collect pucks after training,” Tarasov taught the American.Even Scotty Bowman attended the training sessions of Tarasov's CSKA, who at that time could not even imagine that over time he would have a whole five of star army men in his hands. Philadelphia Flyers head coach Fred Shero also did not hide the fact that he took a lot from the USSR national team, although the team's style – tough and even dirty – did not intersect with the hockey that Tarasov cultivated. “His book was my Bible,” Shero recalled. Under his leadership, the Flyers won the Stanley Cup twice in a row in the mid-70s, although in those years the league was dominated by the seemingly invincible Boston and Montreal. The Rangers need Anatoly Tarasov, “the New York Times wrote in 1978, when the New York team was looking for a new head coach. Of course, there was no question of his coming to a permanent job then. He came to lectures and master classes to different cities in Canada and the USA, but shared his experience with everyone, and not with any particular club.

“Understand, there are no secrets in hockey. What is a secret today, everyone knows tomorrow. All you need is to look carefully, work, fully devote yourself to your goal, be disciplined and inventive. This is the secret,” he assured his Tarasov's students.

Vancouver wanted to kill two birds with one stone by inviting Tarasov in 1987. Firstly, communication with him would benefit the coaching staff of the team, which was going through hard times. Secondly, it was an important step towards a possible invitation to the club of two eminent forwards previously drafted by the Canucks – Krutov and Larionov. p>"We want Papa Bear to look at the organization of our club, maybe he recommends releasing some players from the USSR national team to us", – said the head coach "Canucks" Tom Watt, commenting on Tarasov's challenge.

In February 1987, Tarasov was hired as a consultant for Vancouver for a two-week period. The result of the first training session, to which the coach went straight from the airport, was stunning.

“The Canadians are starting to work out the majority. The forward throws – the goalkeeper catches. Tarasov with a stick to the coach:” Wrong! No need to throw at the gate!” The journalists surrounded, alert. The continuation is: “Throw past the gate. And the other should stand at the far post, correct. “The journalists recorded everything. The next day – a match. Someone throws, Tambellini Sr. substitutes a stick – a goal! The headlines in the newspapers are:” Tarasov's Miracle! The magic of Soviet hockey is to throw past the goal!” commentator Viktor Gusev, who was the coach’s interpreter on that tour, told Sport-Express. img src=”/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/c2287c90a95d433a641b4dc478913585.jpg” />

“Watt is an excellent coach, as far as I can tell. I don’t understand why a team with such a good coach has such poor results,” Tarasov was quoted by The Washington Post. “Yes, yes, we just need your players,” Canadian journalists answered him, but all questions about the possible arrival of Larionov and Krutov sounded one answer: “No”. Tarasov was not going to become a bridge for negotiations between the Canadian club and the Soviet ice hockey federation. Vancouver” turned out to be crumpled for Tarasov, but the club persuaded him to return, promising to pay for the operation on his sore hip. “Soviet doctors refused to touch him, because Tarasov had problems with being overweight and he could easily die on the operating table. And after such an incident, no one would ever hear about the doctor,” said Vancouver owner Arthur Griffiths.

What did Tarasov do after returning to the Soviet Union? The next morning I flew to Siberia, where the Golden Puck competition was held. To his wife's request to stay at home, he answered harshly: “I can't let the boys down!”

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