A cruel and tragic twist of fate struck the Russian hockey community over the past week.
First, coach Valery Belousov passed away April 16. He was 66. Belousov won three Russian championships and enjoyed a successful run in the KHL late in his career, most famously guiding Traktor Chelyabinsk from the league basement in 2010-11 to the Gagarin Cup final in 2012-13.
Then, returning home from Belousov's funeral April 21, coach Sergei Mikhalyov died in a car accident in the Chelyabinsk region. He was 67. He coached Salavat Yulaev Ufa for several seasons and most recently served as GM of Lada Togliatti in the VHL, Russia's second-tier pro league. Mikhalyov also coached Russia's world junior team to a silver medal in 2006.
The KHL expressed deep sympathy for the losses of both coaches. On its website it mused, "One could say without fear of contradiction that Valery Konstantinovich Belousov, more than any other figure in the game, came to symbolize the modern hockey era. His keen mind housed a brilliant understanding of the tactical intricacies and methodology of the sport." It described Mikhalyov's "reputation as a kind-hearted mentor to his players."
THN extends its condolences to the Belousov and Mikhalyov families and to the Russian hockey community.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin