The poor start of the eternal finalists of the West in the new KHL season is one of the peculiarities of the start of the regular season. No, it is clear that SKA, CSKA and other teams that really aspire to something in the spring do not have to destroy everyone in September and even have a positive balance of wins and losses, but in the current championship the situation remains the same. Unique: SKA is out of the zone playoffs, CSKA barely remains in the top eight. In recent years, Army teams could start the regular season however they wanted, but after seven or eight games (like now) they were already in their usual positions at the front of the Western pack.
Eliminations for being crazy led to SKA’s fifth consecutive loss! Rotenberg received a fine
At the same time, the public now perceives CSKA’s difficult start quite calmly, although the Muscovites are still losing to absolutely all the main rivals, and in the main time they have beaten only the outsiders from the East “Admiral” and “Neftekhimik” But much is attributed to the notorious hangover of the championship (after two Gagarin Cups in a row), to the loss of interest of the “golden” backbone of the army team in meaningless matches at the world level. And now this is an explanation completely normal for a team that over the summer has changed almost nothing, has retained its former leaders, is calmly introducing young people into the lineup and, of course, looks into the distance, and not at its own feet. Maybe something is wrong with CSKA, but it is very, very early to talk about it.
Another thing is SKA. St. Petersburg players have worse results and obvious problems in many aspects of the game. At the same time, the equipment of the Neva army was radically renewed in the summer, so there are no guarantees that this particular squadron is really ready to solve big problems. It is clear that the St. Petersburg team also prepared in the summer with an eye on the spring, but five defeats in a row are surprising (and, more importantly, the performance of SKA in these matches) against rivals of different levels and in different Places. and hint at serious difficulties that may not be resolved over time. Of course, the residents of St. Petersburg will not lose forever, their streak will sooner or later be interrupted, but will global problems disappear? Will this SKA be competent for the Gagarin Cup? The question is open.
It’s always cloudy in St. Petersburg. Does anyone seriously think that SKA is no longer the favorite?
What is the reason for the weak play and unpleasant results in the first half of September? After each new defeat, Roman Rotenberg gives new explanations for the autumn failure, presenting SKA as a club offended by everyone and everything. Schedule, injuries, flights, refereeing errors – all this happens to one degree or another, but absolutely for any KHL team. It is not very clear to whom Roman Borisovich’s messages are intended. The SKA fans themselves have been watching hockey for several days and can clearly see that their team is so far limping at all due to the referees or the four-game trip, during which the SKA did not fly beyond the Volga region.
Roman Rotenberg at work
Especially funny are the words of the SKA coach about the army team’s inability to play with the optimal lineup. But didn’t they once again “vacuum clean” the KHL market and barely adjust the payment below the salary cap in order to remain with the maximum possible roster even in the event of the departure of several players? Almost any KHL club would envy SKA’s “incomplete” lineup in home series matches, and Rotenberg’s statements that the army team’s results are affected by the absence of Polyakov, Galimov and Starkov can only be taken with a grain of salt. humor.
There is no doubt that Roman Rotenberg is a godsend for journalists, and more than a thousand viewers at the online press conferences after SKA matches contribute mightily to generating interest in the championship. But we still talk about Rotenberg not as a showman, but as a head coach. And as head coach, Roman Borisovich is in no hurry to take responsibility for defeats and so far, time and again, he only builds castles in the air for a bright future. Yes, he once repeated the axiom that victory has many fathers, but the coach always loses, but in the same speech he found a thousand more reasons for the downfall of SKA.
Why the SKA is losing according to Roman Rotenberg:
But, I repeat, now SKA has problems not only with the result. The team does not play well, experiencing enormous difficulties with the structure in equal compositions. The fact that the army team crushed Siberia in the second half of the game is not an indicator. Yes, there is a big advantage in shots and puck possession, but none of that matters if most of the possession is on the perimeter of the opponent’s zone and most of the shots are non-threatening. You can juggle the numbers as much as you want, but Siberia maintained its minimal advantage quite calmly, moving the game away from its goal, pushing SKA towards the boards and winning duels. Well, Spartak and Dynamo Moscow survived even more easily until the final siren in St. Petersburg.
SKA has big problems with the attack, because the pattern of play is not visible at all, there is no fundamental model, there is no “chemistry” in the attacking trio. Instead, there is a lot of chaotic and demanding hockey, individual actions, shots by shots. Of course, there are questions for the players themselves, for the army leaders, which so far seem practically useless. Tolchinsky, Laipsik, Khairullin have one goal each in seven games, Kadeikin and Galchenyuk in the same period have no goals and with three points scored between them, and the best and most dangerous in SKA at the moment is defender Alexander Nikishin.
But by criticizing the players you cannot take responsibility away from the head coach; His responsibilities include building a system in which players reveal their best qualities and, complementing each other, form a true team. Responsibility cannot be taken away from the general director, who for certain reasons carried out the selection policy. At SKA, as we know, Roman Rotenberg combines both positions. And now the time has come for Roman Borisovich for the first real test of strength, in accordance with his status. In relation to any other club, it would be appropriate to talk about resignation, but in SKA Roman Rotenberg can only be dismissed by Roman Rotenberg, which is probably impossible, especially given the recently signed five-year contract.
Then Rotenberg will have to drink this cup of increased attention and overwhelming skepticism (to say the least) to the bottom, but he signed up for this himself, closing all processes at SKA on himself. Of course, it is unlikely that Roman Borisovich expected such problems to arise now, however, on the other hand, this crisis could become a time of opportunities for him.
Ultimately, the victorious march of the last regular season did not in any way change the public’s attitude toward Rotenberg as a coach. The nature of popular skepticism is understandable: Roman Borisovich led the KHL club without having been a professional hockey player or coach. And, for example, from Bob Hartley or John Cooper, who also did not have any playing career behind them, Rotenberg is distinguished by the fact that he came to the profession not from below, but from above. He did not go through a long practical journey to master the craft at different levels, but rather he came down to the bench directly from the top, simply because he wanted to.
People understand and feel all this, so even the SKA, which won under the leadership of coach-director Rotenberg, did not change its attitude towards Roman Borisovich. The success was attributed to the work of the coaching staff, which was really full of great proven specialists, and to the strength of the squad. But after CSKA’s subsequent elimination of SKA in the playoffs, Rotenberg was completely questioned. This is precisely an illustration of the same postulate about the fathers of victories and defeats.
And now Rotenberg has lost five in a row to start the season. This is a problem, but it is also a challenge and an opportunity. Rotenberg will fix the situation, bring the team to its senses, prepare it in the best possible way for the playoffs – these will be his laurels, even if Evgeniy Koreshkov draws on the tablet during timeouts and Sergei Zubov “drives”. The team during training. Because this will mean that Rotenberg coped with the pressure (including self-pressure, so to speak), steering the ship through a storm precisely in the role of its captain.
If you cannot cope or abandon your position altogether (this is what can be expected from the impulsive Rotenberg), then excuse yourself. There will be criticism and ridicule, but to the question “Is it possible to become a successful coach in the KHL with a snap of the fingers and embrace the vastness?” A clear answer will appear.