MOSCOW, March 26 (R-Sport) - Dynamo Moscow's Oleg Znarok has been appointed head coach of the Russian national hockey team after the country's quarterfinal exit at the Sochi Olympics.
The previous Russia coach, Zinetula Bilyaletdinov, was fired in the wake of the defeat to Finland on home ice, which President Vladimir Putin this week called a "serious disappointment."
Support had built among Russian hockey fans to see Znarok, 51, take the helm after guiding Dynamo to back-to-back Gagarin Cup titles in the last two seasons.
It came to fruition on Wednesday after Znarok met with Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, a source told R-Sport.
"Znarok is an excellent specialist who has proved more than once that he's got what it takes to guide the team to victories," the Russian Hockey Federation said in a website statement.
The deal will cover the next Olympic cycle, which culminates with the Pyeongchang Winter Games in South Korea in 2018, the team's new general manager Andrei Safronov told R-Sport.
Znarok also coached the Latvian national team for six years, with a seventh-placed finished at the world championships his best result.
His first job will be to prepare the team for the May 9-23 world championships in Minsk, the capital of neighboring Belarus.
The other candidate for the post was possibly former coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who won two world golds with Russia in 2008 and 2009.