Posted by simon c on 2009 August 31日 Monday
It’s almost certain that the San Jose Sharks have pulled out of their venture in China with the China Sharks, the only Chinese entry in the Asia Legue. First, in a recent IIHF article, it was announced that China has hired Belarussian Andrei Kovalev to coach both the national team and the Chinese Asia League team (doesn’t say Sharks).
China hired former Belarusian national player Andrei Kovalev as its new head coach. He signed a contract through April 2010.
The 43-year-old has plenty of international experience as a player. Kovalev played in eight World Championships and two Olympics with Belarus. He also won U20 gold with the Soviets. He played for Dynamo Minsk and Dynamo Moscow in the Russian and Soviet league before a two-year stint in North America in the AHL and other minor leagues, and 13 years in Germany. He ended his playing career in 2007 with Yunost Minsk.
After retiring, he worked with Yunost before becoming the assistant coach of HK Vitebsk.
Kovalev will be assisted by Chinese coaches and he will also be the head coach of the Chinese team in the Asian League. The club is located in a new 8,000-seat arena in Shanghai and it’s the strongest club team in the country.
Then in the Blades-Bucks preseason games over the weekend, apparently people were given pamphlets for the upcoming Asia League season with a team named “China Dragon”.
Removal of Sharks personnel (especially coach) from the Chinese team, and the addition of Kovalev definitely indicates a change in direction away from the Sharks, but with the China team’s opening game quickly approaching on 24 September, they’ll have to get their act together in a hurry. And it looks like yet another year where top level Chinese hockey is changing directions with no clear long term plan.