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Viktor Tikhonov Dies: Russian Hockey Coach of 'Miracle on Ice'

Image: Viktor Tikhonov Dies: Russian Hockey Coach of 'Miracle on Ice'
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By    |   Tuesday, 25 Nov 2014 11:51 AM

Viktor Tikhonov, the legendary Russian hockey coach who won three Olympic gold medals but will always be remembered for the U.S. "Miracle on Ice" loss, died Monday. He was 84.

Tikhonov's death was confirmed by Russia's Kontinental Hockey League on Monday, according to the New York Times. Tikhonov's hard-driving – some called it ruthless – training and style turned an already strong Soviet hockey program to the world's best unit over the 1980s and part of the 1990s.

He stamped his coaching legacy by leading the Soviet Union to Olympic gold medals in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics and the 1992 Unified Team, the team made up of mostly former Soviet Union players after the breakup of the communist nation, noted the Times.

But Tikhonov's will be remembered in the United States for being on the wrong side of one of the greatest sports upsets ever when the U.S. hockey team beat his Soviet Union squad 4-3 in the semifinal hockey medal round of the 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid.

The Times noted that two weeks earlier, the Soviet Union team, then nicknamed the Big Red Machine, dominated the Americans 10-3 in an exhibition game. The United States would go on to win the gold medal in hockey that year.

Vladislav Tretiak, the goalie on the 1980 team and now of the Russian Hockey Federation, honored his coach even though some of his other players had harsher words to say about him, reported the Times.

"People like Viktor Tikhonov should never be forgotten," Tretiak said to Russian news outlets. "This is our history, and if we forget our past, what can be said? Viktor's name is forever inscribed in the history of Soviet and Russian hockey. We must cherish that name."

Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk told MLive.com that Tikhonov was "a legend" and gave Russians a reason to celebrate hockey.

"Very famous coach," Datsyuk told MLive.com. "A legend, big time. Everybody know him. I was mad when I hear the news that he died. He did lots for Russians. All players appreciate him."

Other hockey greats and organizations shared their condolences on social media.


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Viktor Tikhonov, the legendary Russian hockey coach who won three Olympic gold medals but will always be remembered for the U.S. "Miracle on Ice" loss, died Monday. He was 84.
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Tuesday, 25 Nov 2014 11:51 AM
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