Oleg Znarok

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Oleg Znarok May 4 2014.jpg
Oleg Znarok in 2014
Born (1963-01-02) 2 January 1963 (age 55)
Ust-Katav, Chelyabinsk Oblast,
Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 198 lb (90 kg; 14 st 2 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Dinamo Riga
EV Landsberg
EHC Freiburg
Heilbronner Falken
National team  Soviet Union and
Playing career 1979–2002

Oleg Valerievich Znarok (Russian: Олег Валерьевич Знарок, born 2 January 1963) is a Soviet-Latvian-German professional ice hockey player and coach who represented the USSR and Latvia, internationally, and currently represents Russia.[1]

A 3-time Coach of the Year in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), he is currently the head coach of SKA Saint Petersburg as well as the Russian national team.[2]

Internationally, he guided Russia to gold, silver, two bronze performances in the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 IIHF World Championships, respectively, and to a gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics.[3] Znarok coached the Latvian national team at five IIHF World Championships, two IIHF World U-20 Championships and one IIHF World U-18 Championship.[4]

He had coached Dynamo Moscow 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 seven games.[5]

Early and personal life[edit]

Oleg Znarok was born 2 January 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 (after finishing 6th at the 2010 Winter Olympics and 4th at the 2011 IIHF WC) 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 (after finishing 5th at the 2014 Winter Olympics): this time in favor of Znarok himself. Znarok would go on to coach Russia to a gold medal in 2014, also going 10-0, winning silver in 2015 and two bronze medals in 2016 and 2017. He also led Russia to a 4th place finish at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

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.

Playing career[edit]

Znarok started his ice hockey career at Traktor Chelyabinsk, making his debut in the 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 during the 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.

From 1983 until 1991, he represented Dinamo Riga, where he would become a top level player and an all-time club legend. The 1984–85 season would see Znarok's 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. In 1987–88 season, he led his team to a second-place finish in the Soviet Championship League's playoffs, losing 3–1 to CSKA Moscow in the final. The 1990–91 season was 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.

In the 1991–92 season he played 6 games with the Maine Mariners of the American Hockey League (AHL), scoring 3 goals and 1 assist.

Znarok had a two-game (1 goal, 1 assist) outing in the Czech Extraliga during the 1993–94 playoffs, for Vítkovice.

Between the 1992–93 and 2001–02 seasons, he would represent various clubs in Germany. In the 1992–93 season, he would help EV Landsberg earn a promotion from the Oberliga to the 2nd Bundesliga, 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 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 playoff games. After the 2001–02 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.[6]

International play[edit]

Soviet Union[edit]

In 1981, Znarok 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.

The 1989 Super Series, in which Soviet clubs faced National Hockey League (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. In 1997, he helped Latvia to its best ever placing of seventh in the world. In total he would go on to put up 35 points in 34 games, scoring 18 goals.

His first effort would be in Division B. Latvia would finish second to Slovakia after 6 wins and 1 loss in 7 games. Znarok put up 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) in 8 games and 18 PIM.

In his second effort, now as captain in 1996, Latvia would improve to first 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. In the last game of the tournament, Latvia needed a tie or a win against Switzerland, to gain promotion. A loss, would have give nSwitzerland 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.

In his third effort, Latvia would now be facing some of the top national teams of the world, placed in a group with Canada, United States 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. Znarok led his team to a seventh-place finish, the highest ever finish for Latvia.

In his fourth effort and secondnd as captain, Latvia would finish ninth. In the consolation round establishing 9-12th place standings, there were some highlights. A 5–0 win over Germany and a 3–2 win against United States, 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.

The 1999 edition would mark Znarok's fifth and final effort (third as captain). Latvia would go on to finish eleventh. As a result, next year they would be forced to play a qualification tournament to remain in the elite group. At 36, Znarok would only manage 1 assist and be limited to only 6 games.

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[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
Totals 34 18 17 35 52

Coaching career[edit]

After finishing his playing career, Znarok turned to coaching.

In 2002–03, he was an assistant coach for the Latvian national team, while in 2003–04, Znarok was the head coach of the under-18 national team, as well as the head for Prizma Riga of the Latvian Hockey Higher League. From 2004 to 2006, he was the head coach of the under-20 national team and the head coach of SK Riga 20 of the Latvian Hockey Higher League, and an assistant coach, with the Latvian national team at two World Championships, 2006 Olympic qualifiers and 2006 Olympics. From 2006 to 2011, Znarok coached the Latvian national team at five World Championships and at 2010 Olympics as well as coaching SK Riga 20 through the 2007–08 season.

From 2008 to 2014, Znarok was the head coach of MVD of Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) for two seasons, before its merger with Dynamo Moscow and continued head coaching for the next four seasons. On 26 March 2014, Znarok joined the Russian national team, and coached them at 3 World Championships, various stages of EHT and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Znarok achieved a flawless record with Russia during his first year as coach at the 2014 IIHF World Championship,[7] although he has yet to beat the 29 World Championship game winning streak established by Vyacheslav Bykov.[8] On 1 June 2016, he was named head coach of SKA Saint Petersburg, in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) with whom he won the 2016–17 Gagarin Cup.

Coaching record[edit]

Team Season Regular season Postseason
GP W L T OTL Pts Division Rank Result
Kontinental Hockey League
MVD 2008–09 56 26 29 1 73 6th in Tarasov Did not qualify
2009–10 56 31 15 10 102 2nd in Tarasov Lost in Gagarin Cup Finals
Dynamo Moscow 2010–11 54 30 16 8 96 1st in Bobrov Lost in Conference Quarter-Finals
2011–12 54 35 15 4 105 2nd in Bobrov Won Gagarin Cup
2012–13 52 36 14 2 101 2nd in Bobrov Won Gagarin Cup
2013-14 54 38 11 5 115 1st in Tarasov Lost in Conference Quarter-Finals
SKA 2016–17 60 46 8 6 137 1st in Bobrov Won Gagarin Cup
KHL Totals 326 196 100 30 4 Finals
3 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, 2 OT won, 2 OT lost
 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 WCH 4 2 0 0 2 Semi-finals
2017 WC 10 7 1 0 2 Bronze
2018 OG 6 4 1 0 1 Gold
Total: 37 won, 9 lost, 3 OT won, 1 OT lost

Awards and achievements[edit]

Playing awards[edit]

Soviet Union national under-18 team:

  • 1981 – gold medal

Soviet Championship League:

Latvian national team:

  • 1996 Division B – gold medal
  • 1996 Division B – All-Star Team

Coaching awards[edit]

Russian national team:

  • 2014 – gold medal
  • 2015 – silver medal
  • 2016 – bronze medal
  • 2017 – bronze medal
  • 2018 – Gold medal


Latvian under-20 team:

State awards[edit]


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
Ilya Vorobiev