The news broke while Lokomotiv and CSKA were playing the second period in Game 6 of their Western Conference semi-final. The match was a rarity, in that Sergei was not on our screens to give his unique insight, but only because he had traveled to Tula to take part in a veterans’ game alongside his fellow hockey legends. He and the game he loved were inseparable.
Sergei Gimaev learnt the art of hockey in Ufa, and in 1976 he moved to the capital, where he earned a place in the all-conquering CSKA team. The young defenseman held his own in the most illustrious company - Boris Mikhailov, Vladimir Petrov, Valery Kharlamov, Vladislav Tretiak – as the Army Men captured title after title.
When his playing career ended, he turned to coaching – at his beloved CSKA and the nation’s youth team. With the latter, Sergei and fellow coach Vladimir Shadrin led the born-in-1978 vintage to European Championship gold, and Gimaev’s talent was recognized by the state with the official Coach of Russia title.
With the new millennium, the man who had nurtured so much young talent began to develop his own. Sergei possessed an excellent memory, and a natural ability to clearly express his thoughts in an entertaining and informative manner, and using these skills he swiftly became one of the most sought-after TV commentators and hockey experts in the country. This season, as in many previous years, barely a day went by without Sergei in one studio or another, sharing his views on the KHL regular championship and playoffs.
He had also put in several years of service supporting various good causes by playing with his fellow veterans in the Legends of USSR Hockey team, for whom today he stepped onto the ice for the very last time.
The Kontinental Hockey League expresses its sincerets condolences to the family and friends of Sergei Nailievich Gimaev.
Dmitry Chernyshenko, KHL President:
“The sudden death of Sergei Gimayev is a terrible shock for all of us. He was without doubt one of the most respected and recognizable people in the sport. Over the last few years, his peerless professionalism and deep understanding of hockey has done so much to promote and popularize his beloved game – a game which he lived and breathed all through his colorful and eventful life. He will be fondly remembered by millions of fans all over Russia, and all are saddned by this loss.”
Sunday’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semi-final series between Ak Bars and Avangard will be preceded by a minute’s silence in memory of Sergei Gimaev.