Kazan’s Ak Bars HC announces Zinetula Bilyaletdinov’s contract extension
Head coach of Kazan’s Ak Bars Zinetula Bilyaletdinov stays in the team. The specialist has signed a new contract with the club. The new agreement with the head coach expires at the end of the 2023/24 season, says the press service of Bars.
“The decision was tough, I seriously reflected on extending the contract, many factors influenced me at the end. I have worked with the team for half a year, got to know it and want to finish my job. The season was good enough, but I would like more so that the lads feel the taste of a big victory. Our fans, ordinary Kazan citizens often approached me and asked to stay in the team, this also played a role,” the coach commented.
Coaches Yury Babenko and Alexander Boykov also stay in the coaching staff. Sergey Abramov and Alexander Agopeyev will continue working with goalkeepers. Two-time Gagarin Cup winner Brandon Bowie who worked at Ak Bars from 2016 to 2018 was appointed as physical training coach.
Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was born in Moscow in 1955. He started his career as a hockey player at Moscow’s Dynamo where he played as defence for 15 years. After the retirement as player, he began working as a coach assistant at a club in Moscow. Also, during his career he has coached Canadian and American clubs. He first became a Bars coach in 2004.
Bilyaletdinov won his second championship in history together with Ak Bars. The Continental Cup in Riga (2008) became his second trophy as a Bars coach. A year later, the Kazan team won the first Gagarin Cup. The success was repeated a year later, but Bilyaletdinov left the team in 2011.
Fans waits for the comeback of the favourite coach of the Kazan public for three years. However, the coach didn’t manage to win the trophy right away. Ak Bars won the third Gagarin Cup only in 2018. Bilyaletdinov left the club again a year later. His third appointment as head coach of the Kazan team took place in December 2022.
In the 2022/23 season, Ak Bars reached the Russian Hockey Championship final under Zinetula Bilyaletdinov. The Kazan club finished second. Under his guidance, the team suffered only three defeats in regulation time in 25 matches.
Later in May, Tatarstan Rais Rustam Minnikhanov met with the whole team at the Kazan Kremlin. He thanked the hockey players and the entire coaching staff for their huge work, for successes achieved and the desire for victory. The Tatarstan leader congratulated them on silver medals of the Continental Hockey League and Russian Hockey Championship in the 2022/23 season.