Oleg Znarok

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Oleg Znarok May 4 2014.jpg
Oleg Znarok in 2014
Born (1963-01-02) 2 January 1963 (age 54)
Ust-Katav, Chelyabinsk Oblast, Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 200 lb (91 kg; 14 st 4 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
National team  Soviet Union 
Playing career 1979–2002

Oleg Valerievich Znarok (Russian: Олег Валерьевич Знарок, born 2 January 1963) is a current coach and a former Soviet ice hockey player, who would go on to represent Latvia internationally after the collapse of the USSR.

A 3 time "Coach of the Year" in the KHL, he is currently at the helm of SKA Saint Petersburg as well as the Russian National Hockey Team.

Internationally, he's guided Russia to Gold, Silver, and Bronze performances in the 2014, 2015, and 2016 IIHF World Championships, respectively. Earlier, he'd coached the Latvian team at five IIHF World Championships, two IIHF World U-20 Championships and one IIHF World U-18 Championship.

He had coached Dynamo Moscow of the KHL, to back to back Gagarin Cup championships, in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons, and a Continental Cup in 2013-14 season. As well taking HC MVD to an appearance in the Gagarin Cup final of the 2009-10 season, losing in Game 7.

Biography and Personal[edit]

Oleg Znarok was born January 2, 1963 in Ust-Katav in the Soviet Union, presently in the Russian Federation. His father, Valeri Znarok, was a football (soccer) player at the time, who would himself go on to have a long coaching career. A young Oleg was introduced to hockey, when his grandfather brought him and his younger brother to a local skating rink.

Znarok would have a successful and long career as a player, before moving on to coaching. Playing for 23 years, across several leagues: Soviet, German, as well as a several games in the Czech Extraliga and the AHL of North America.

One of Znarok's youth team mates from Traktor Chelyabinsk was Vyachislav Bykov, who would go on to play for CSKA Moscow and the Soviet National Team. Bykov, after a successful playing career, would go on to coach the Russian National Team to back to back gold medals in 2008 and 2009 at the IIHF World Championships. He'd be replaced in favor of Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, a former star player of rival Dynamo Moscow, who would go on to coach the Russian team to a gold medal in 2012, posting an undefeated record of 10-0. In turn, he too would be replaced: this time in favor of Znarok himself. Despite dealing with heavy injuries (Ovechkin: knee injury, Orlov: broken arm, Anisimov: broken thumb, Zubarev: deep arm laceration, Loktionov: shoulder injury, Chudinov: illness), Znarok would go on to coach Russia to a gold medal in 2014, also going 10-0.

Oleg is married. He and his wife Ilona, have two daughters, Valeria and Alisa. Valeria is in marketing and Alisa is a model.

Oleg first saw his wife in the stands at a hockey game. She was not a sports fan, but came out to support her friends. Seeing her again at a post match celebration, at a local restaurant, Oleg worked up the courage to approach her. They have been together ever since.

In the attic of their house, Ilona has put together something of a museum of hockey memorabilia. Among other items, it holds Znarok's ever growing collection of medals, awards and jerseys. One such item is an NHL contract that Oleg was given to sign by the Boston Bruins, untranslated. As Oleg did not speak English and had no one nearby to translate it for him, he turned it down when he thought the dollar amount was too low. It would only be a decade later, that he would find out that the numbers written down, the only thing he could understand of what was written, were for a monthly salary and not a yearly one.

Player Profile[edit]

Znarok, as a player, was known for his leadership on and off the ice. A very tough, physically punishing and demanding playing style. As well as good scoring ability.

As a player, Oleg Znarok is perhaps best remembered by Latvian hockey fans. Needing at least a tie, to gain promotion to the elite group A, he scored the game tying 1-1 goal against Switzerland in 1996 world championships B division. As of 2016, Latvia has never again played in Division B.

Playing career[edit]

In the Soviet Union[edit]


Znarok started his ice hockey career at the club Traktor, in Chelyabinsk (presently in the Russian Federation), making his first team debut in 1979-80 season. Over the next few years he would intermittently make appearances with the top team, and would go on to play 18 games 1981-82 season. Although not productive at the senior level as a teenager, his first career goal came against the legendary Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretiak.

Latvian SSR[edit]

From 1983 until 1991, he represented Dinamo Riga (presently in the Republic of Latvia), where he would become a top level player and an all-time club legend.

1984-1985 season, would see Znarok break out with 27 points in 52 games. He scored 14 goals and 13 assists, after putting up only 3 assists in 30 games, the previous season.

1987-1988 season, led his team to a 2nd-place finish (runner up) in the Soviet Championship league playoffs, losing 3-1 to CSKA Moscow in the final.

1990-1991 season would be Znarok's best individual season, putting up 51 points in 44 games scoring 24 goals, 27 assists.

In total, he would amass 221 points over 361 games, in the Soviet league. Scoring 101 goals and 120 assists.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union[edit]

North America[edit]

In the 1991-92 season he played 6 games with the Maine Mariners of the AHL in the United States, scoring 3 goals and 1 assist. (4pts in 6 games)

Czech Republic[edit]

Znarok had a 2-game (1 goal, 1 assist) outing in the Czech league during the 1993-94 play-offs, for Vitkovice.


Between 1992-93 season and the 2001-2002 seasons, he would represent various clubs in Germany.

In the 1992-93 season, he would help EV Landsberg earn a promotion from the Oberliga (third tier) to the 2nd Bundesliga (second tier) of German hockey, on the strength of his astonishing 220 points in just 66 games, scoring 77 goals and 143 assists.

At the age of 30, he would begin his 9 year long participation in the 2nd Bundesliga. He would be a highly dominant player in the second tier, for the rest of his playing career, representing EV Landsberg, EHC Freiburg and Heilbronner EC. Scoring 1,069 points in 461 games in the regular season, on the strength of 388 goals and 681 assists. Also, adding 33 points (9 goals, 24 assists) over 22 play-off games.

At the age of 39, after the 2001-2002 season, Znarok retired as a player. That season, he had put up 63 points (16 goals, 47 assists) over 45 games and added another 7 points (1 goal, 6 assists) in 6 playoff games.


Soviet Union[edit]

In 1981, he would be called up to the Soviet Union under-18 team, where he became a European champion, putting up 16 points (8 goals, 8 assists) in 5 games.

1989 Super Series, in which Soviet clubs faced NHL clubs, Dinamo Riga was one of two Soviet representatives. Znarok would play in 3 games scoring 1 goal.

As he was a Dinamo Riga player, he was also a part of the larger Dynamo sports society. This allowed him in 1990 to be loaned to Dynamo Moscow's squad for their Super Series tour of North America. He scored 2 goals, including one against the Toronto Maple Leafs and one against the Buffalo Sabres, over 4 games.

In 1990, he was called up to the Soviet Union National Team for the Japan Cup, where he put up 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) over 4 games.


Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Znarok would go on to represent Latvia in international competition. He would play in 5 IIHF world Championships and help promote Latvia to the top division of international competition in 1996. Then, in 1997 help Latvia to its best ever placing of 7th in the world. In total he would go on to put up 35 points in 34 game, scoring 18 goals.

1995 World Championships[edit]

His first effort would be in Division-B. Latvia would finish 2nd to Slovakia in Division B play, after 6 wins and 1 loss in 7 games.

Znarok put up 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 8 games and 18 PIM.

1996 World Hockey Championships[edit]

In his second effort, now as captain in 1996, Latvia would improve to 1st in Division B, after 6 wins and 1 draw in 7 games.

Znarok led the tournament with 6 goals in 6 games and added 2 assists with 18 PIM, making the All-Star team.

"The Promotion Goal"[edit]

In the last game of the tournament, Latvia needed a tie or a win against Switzerland, to gain promotion. A loss, would give Switzerland the promotion. Down 1-0, Znarok scored to tie the game, 1-1. Latvia earned a promotion to the elite division for next year's championship.

1997 World Hockey Championships[edit]

In his third effort, Latvia would now be facing some of the top national teams of the world, placed in a group with Canada, USA and Sweden. Not expected to show much, having just been promoted, Latvia would go on to greatly surprise the hockey world.

Znarok lead the team with 10 points in 8 games. He was tied for 5th in tournament points and tied for 2nd in assists, with 7.

"First" Elite games[edit]
  • Latvia 4 - 5 USA (Although in a losing effort against the Americans, Latvia gave the world an early glimpse of their capabilities)
  • Latvia 4 - 5 Italy (After this loss to the Italian team, it was widely assumed that their performance against the USA was a one-off)
"Shocking the World"[edit]

No one in the world expected Latvia to put up a challenge against the powerhouse teams of Canada or Sweden.

Canada and Sweden would go on to finish the tournament with gold and silver respectfully, playing a three game final.

A Strong Finish[edit]
  • Latvia 6 - 3 Norway
  • Latvia 8 - 0 Germany
  • Latvia 6 - 2 France
  • Latvia 5 - 4 Slovakia (Avenging the loss that denied Latvia Promotion in 1995)

Znarok lead his team to an unreal 7th-place finish, the highest ever finish for Latvia.

As of 2016, Latvia has only matched a 7th place finish 2 more times:

  • 2009 with Znarok as head coach
  • 2004 with Znarok as an assistant coach

1998 World Hockey Championships[edit]

In his fourth effort and 2nd as captain, Latvia would finish 9th.

In the consolation round establishing 9-12th place standings, there were some highlights. A 5-0 win against Germany and a 3-2 win against USA, avenging the previous year's loss. This sent the American and German teams to next year's qualification tournaments to fight against relegation. The American team would be successful and remain in the elite division for 1999. The German team however would only be back in the elite division in 2001.

Znarok put up 8 points (5 goals, 3 assists) in 8 games.

1999 World Hockey Championships[edit]

This would mark Znarok's fifth and final effort (3rd as captain). Latvia would go on to finish 11th. As a result, next year they would be forced to play a qualification tournament to remain in the elite group. (They would be successful. As of 2016 they have never been relegated.)

At the age of 36, Znarok would only manage 1 assist and be limited to only 6 games.

Career statistics[edit]

Club Level[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1983–84 Dynamo Riga Soviet 30 0 3 3 8
1984–85 Dynamo Riga Soviet 52 14 13 27 34
1985–86 Dynamo Riga Soviet 36 12 7 19 26
1986–87 Dynamo Riga Soviet 40 13 12 25 34
1987–88 Dynamo Riga Soviet 49 12 20 32 43
1988–89 Dynamo Riga Soviet 37 10 10 20 22
1989–90 Dynamo Riga Soviet 48 15 27 42 60
1990–91 Dynamo Riga Soviet 44 24 27 51 58
1991–92 Stars Riga Soviet 3 0 1 1 6
1991–92 Maine Mariners AHL 6 3 1 4 11
1992–93 EV Landsberg Oberliga 66 77 143 220
1993–94 EV Landsberg 2nd 56 66 122 188
1993–94 HC Vitkovice Extraliga 2 1 1 2 0
1994–95 EV Landsberg 2nd 45 54 94 148 56
1995–96 EHC Freiburg 2nd 52 60 102 162 108
1996–97 EHC Freiburg 2nd 56 57 82 139 66
1997–98 EHC Freiburg 2nd 56 46 61 107 70
1998–99 EHC Freiburg 2nd 61 36 70 106 43
1999–00 EHC Freiburg 2nd 45 30 57 87 56 6 6 8 14 8
2000–01 Heilbronner EC 2nd 44 23 46 69 22 10 2 10 12 10
2001–02 Heilbronner EC 2nd 45 16 47 63 28 6 1 6 7 2


Year Team Comp GP G A Pts PIM Result
1995 Latvia WC-B 6 4 4 8 18 2nd (Div-B)
1996 Latvia WC-B 6 6 2 8 18 Promoted
1997 Latvia WC 8 3 7 10 6 7th
1998 Latvia WC 8 5 3 8 2 9th
1999 Latvia WC 6 0 1 1 8 11th
Senior int'l totals 34 18 17 35 52

Coaching career[edit]

After finishing his playing career, Znarok immediately entered coaching.



2004-05 through 2005-06

2006-07 through 2010-11

2008-09 through 2013-14

March 26, 2014 – present

Club Record[edit]

Team Season Regular season Post season
GP W L T OTL Pts Pct% Division Rank Result
Kontinental Hockey League
HC MVD 2008–09 56 26 29 - 1 73 47.3% 6th in Tarasov Did not qualify
2009–10 56 31 15 - 10 102 64.3% 2nd in Tarasov Lost Gagarin Cup Final (AKB)
Dynamo Moscow 2010–11 54 30 16 - 8 96 63% 1st in Bobrov Lost in first round (DIR)
2011–12 54 35 15 - 4 105 68.5% 2nd in Bobrov Won Gagarin Cup
2012–13 52 36 14 - 2 101 71.2% 2nd in Bobrov Won Gagarin Cup
2013-14 54 38 11 - 5 115 75% Continental Cup Lost in first round (LOK)
SKA 2016-17 --Season in progress--
KHL Totals 326 196 100 - 30 - 3 Finals, 2 Gagarin Cups, 1 Continental Cup

International Record[edit]

Team Year Type GP W OTW OTL L Result
 Latvia 2007 WC 6 2 0 1 3 13th
2008 WC 6 2 0 0 4 11th
2009 WC 7 2 2 0 3 7th
2010 OG 4 0 0 1 3 12th
2010 WC 6 2 0 0 4 11th
2011 WC 6 2 0 2 2 13th
Total: 10 won,19 lost, 2OT won, 2OT lost
Team Year Type GP W OTW OTL L Result
 Russia 2014 WC 10 10 0 0 0 Gold
2015 WC 10 6 1 1 2 Silver
2016 WC 10 8 0 0 2 Bronze
2016 WCup 4 2 0 0 2 Semi-Final
Total: 26 won, 6 lost, 1 OTW, 1 OTL

Awards and Achievements[edit]


Soviet Union National U-18 Hockey Team at the European Junior Championships

  • 1981 Gold Medal
    • Top Forward

Dinamo Riga in the Soviet Championship League

Latvian National Hockey Team at IIHF world Championships

  • 1996 Division-B Champion
    • 1996 Division-B All-Star Team
    • 1996 Division-B Most Goals


Russian National Hockey Team at the IIHF Hockey World Championships:

HC Dynamo Moscow in the KHL

HC MVD in the KHL

Latvian Under 20 Team at the IIHF World U20 Championship:

State Awards[edit]

2012 - Awarded the Order of Friendship

2014 - Awarded the Order of Honour


External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Petr Vorobiev
Latvian national ice hockey team coach
Succeeded by
Ted Nolan
Preceded by
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov
Russian national ice hockey team coach
Succeeded by