On the eve of the playoffs, Avangard Omsk replaces coach
Thursday March 11th 2010, 12:36 am

Just when you thought last year’s benching of head coach Wayne Fleming was the peak of Anatoly Bardin’s insanity, the man pulling the strings for KHL club Avangard Omsk proves that he still has tricks up his sleeve. On the eve of his club’s first round playoff series against ninth seeded Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, Bardin announced on Wednesday that he had replaced head coach Igor Nikitin with former Finnish national team coach Raimo Summanen.

Nikitin had held the post since Fleming was fired in January 2009.  He’ll remain with the club in the role of Senior Coach, the position he held before taking over for Fleming.  He’ll be joined in that role by Vasily Tikhonov, son of Soviet legend Viktor Tikhonov and father to Phoenix Coyotes prospect Viktor Tikhonov.  The rest of the coaching and training staff remains the same.

Summanen arrives in Omsk having played a combination of 151 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers and Vancouver Canucks.  In 1995 he was part of the Finland’s only World Championship team to date, and he went on to coach the country’s national team to a second place finish in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.  In 2002 he won the Kalevi Numminen trophy as the top coach in Finland’s SM-liga.

The reason given for the coaching change was Avangard’s poor finish in the regular season.  The club closed the season with a 2-5-0-2 stretch to finish eleventh in the KHL’s overall standings.

You can watch Numminen’s debut (and the start of Jaromir Jagr’s quest for the Gagarin Cup) live at 11:00am EST Thursday.

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Filed under: Avangard Omsk, KHL

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