Viktor Vasilyevich Tikhonov (Russian: Виктор Васильевич Тихонов; 4 June 1930 – 24 November 2014) was a Soviet ice hockey player and coach. Tikhonov was a defenceman with VVS Moscow and Dynamo Moscow from 1949 to 1963
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, winning four national championships. He was the coach of the Soviet team when it was the dominant team in the world, winning eight World Championship gold medals, as well as Olympic gold in 1984, 1988, and 1992. Tikhonov also led CSKA Moscow to twelve consecutive league championships. He also coached the Soviet team that lost to the United States, 4-3, in the 1980 Olympic medal round game known as the Miracle on Ice. He was named to the IIHF Hall of Fame as a builder in 1998.
Tikhonov played as a defenceman with the VVS (Team of the Soviet Air Forces) and Dynamo Moscow. He scored 35 goals in 296 games in the Soviet elite hockey league from 1949 to 1963. In 1950, he became a Soviet Sports Master. As a player, he won four gold medals of the Soviet national championship (three times with VVS (1951–1953) and once with Dynamo, 1954). He won the USSR Cup in 1952 as a member of VVS.
His coaching career started in 1964 when he became an assistant coach for Dynamo Moscow, then he took the position of the Head Coach for Dynamo Riga in 1968. In 1973, he was named a Latvian merited sports coach (ZTR SSSR). In 1977 he became the Head Coach for both CSKA Moscow (Central Sport Club of the Army or the Red Army Club as it was known in USA and Canada), and the Soviet National Team. In 1978, he became a Soviet Merited sports coach (ZTR SSSR). He was the Soviet and later CIS and Russian National Team coach until 1994, and the coach for CSKA until 1996. As coach he won:
Tikhonov was known for his dictatorial coaching style. He exercised nearly absolute control over his players’ lives. His teams practiced for 10 to 11 months a year, and were confined to barracks throughout that time. CSKA was literally part of the Soviet Army during the Soviet era, and Tikhonov was a general. Tikhonov’s fear of defections since the late 1980s was supposedly so great that he cut players when he thought they might defect. In 1991, for instance, he cut Pavel Bure, Valeri Zelepukin, Evgeny Davydov, and Vladimir Konstantinov just before the 1991 Canada Cup. All of them had been drafted by NHL teams, and Tikhonov might have thought that they might defect if they were allowed to go to the West, just like Alexander Mogilny and Sergei Fedorov. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Tikhonov mellowed his style considerably.
After his retirement, Tikhonov lobbied the Russian government for more attention and better financing for the national team.
Tikhonov was hospitalized in late October 2014 and died after a long illness in Moscow on 24 November 2014, at the age of 84.
He was featured on the acclaimed documentary about Russian hockey in the Cold War era, “Red Army.”
Viktor’s son Vasily was also a professional ice hockey coach, who worked in Finland
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, the United States and Switzerland but moved back to Russia to live with his family. Vasily died in a fall from the window of his Moscow apartment in August 2013.
Viktor’s grandson, also named Viktor Tikhonov, was chosen to join Team Russia at the 2007 Super Series against Team Canada after Game Four of the eight-game-series was completed. On June 20, 2008, Tikhonov was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. After four seasons playing for SKA Saint Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League, Tikhonov signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League.