A few minutes after Russia’s victory in the World Championship final, head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov shared his thoughts on the triumph and talked of his team’s route to success.

“We knew we had to just take one more step. I warned them that Slovakia was a serious opponent who had knocked out the Canadians and the Czechs. All our opponents in the knockout stages were tough, and we had trouble starting the first periods, but then we found our momentum. I want to mention the leaders of the team, captain Ilya Nikulin plus the other, unofficial leaders, like Tereshchenko, Svitov, Kalinin, Datsyuk and Malkin. These guys did a great job; they created a good atmosphere and that really helped the team.”

“You look totally calm. Will you admit that you’re happy?”
“It goes without saying. It is my first World Championship as head coach. But I’m happier for the guys and for our country.”

“What new things have you found out about Russian hockey?”
“Over the season I got to watch a great many games, and not only our domestic championship, but the European and North American leagues. I don’t feel like talking about our problems right now. Let’s just have a rest, and we’ll tackle the problems later.”

“Are you annoyed you didn’t get to test yourselves against the US or Canada?”
“We’ll get the chance to play against them next year.”

“At the post-game press conference Vladimir Vujtek had tears in his eyes. Would you have been distraught if you had lost?”
“It depends on the circumstances of the defeat. Today’s game is one I really wouldn’t want to lose.”

“How much potential do you see in the young guys, Burmistrov and Tarasenko?”
“I told them what I wanted from them. They know what areas they need to work on. Everything depends on them, not on me. I can help them as a coach. That is my duty and I’m ready to do it.”

“What do you have to say about the performance of Evgeny Kuznetsov?”
“For his debut he played fine. At the World Championships there are very strong players performing, and it’s a very high level of hockey at the tournament. We’ll be demanding from him the right game, a better game. Zhenya is a very strong individual player, but hockey is a team game and he has to involve his partners more. I think he understands this.”

“The team as it is now – is it your ideal model? What kind of team do you want to see in Sochi?”
“A lot of things went right. A few things here and there didn’t quite come off, but overall I would like us to play exactly like we did here.”

“For 10 of your players it was their first World Championship, and none of these selections was a mistake. How did you get it so right?”
“I can make mistakes; I’m not a computer. The guys did very well and justified my faith in them.”

“Your favorite phrase is, ‘time will tell.” What did time tell you after this championship?”
“The result. It tells us we did our job right and we made the right preparations for the games. But there’s the odd detail. For example, we simply couldn’t play our own game in the quarter-final. But the general direction, the way the team is developing, is the right one. We’ve set the players specific goals, and we hope that sooner or later they will all reach a new, higher level. Players have to grow with every game they play for their country.”

“Have you changed your mind about combining the club and country roles? Could you cope with being boss of the national team and of Ak Bars?”
“I’d cope,” – said Bilyaletdinov, smiling.

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