Boris Kulagin (1924-1988),
USSR Merited Sports Coach (ZTR SSSR, 1969).
- Played as a foward with the VVS club, scored 2
goals in 15 games in the USSR Elite Hockey League
- Played in the USSR Soccer and Bandy Elite Leagues.
- CSKA Coach in 1961-1971
- Krylya Sovetov Moscow Head Coach in 1971-1976
- Spartak Moscow Head Coach in 1979-1984
- USSR Gold in 1974
- Team USSR Coach in 1972-1974
- Team USSR Head Coach in 1974-1977
- WC Gold in 1974-1975
- European Championship Gold in 1974-1975
- Olympics Gold in 1976
- Soviet Head Coach at the USSR vs. Team Canada
(WHA) Summit in 1974
- Soviet Wings Head Coach at the Soviet Clubs vs.
NHL Clubs Super Series in 1975/1976.
Boris KULAGIN was the second coach of Team USSR
at the 1972 Summit. Ironically, Kulagin always seemed
to be the second coach to the more established ones. As
a coach of legendary CSKA in the 1960s, he was certainly
overshadowed by his boss, Anatoly
Tarasov. The glorious spotlight always goes to
the first ones. Needless to say, Kulagin was a very good
assistant coach. If nothing else, it was Kulagin who convinced
Tarasov to give a second chance to Valery
Kharlamov after the "father of Soviet hockey"
wasn't impressed with the skill set of the young forward
in the late 1960's. Tarasov's vision of hockey at that
time was mostly focused on big athletes and small-sized
Kharlamov didn't really fit into this concept.
In his younger years, Kulagin played soccer, bandy and
some hockey in the elite leagues. He was a disciplined
solid forward but arguably not a star material. He began
his coaching career in 1955 and, after a long apprenticeship
with Tarasov in the Red Army Club, he left CSKA in 1971
to take over a small mediocre Krylya Sovetov (Soviet Wings)
team. Prior to Kulagin, the team had neither powerful
sponsors like CSKA and Dynamo Moscow nor a well-established
character like Spartak Moscow. Kulagin managed to rebuild
the "Krylyshki" team from scratch. He brought
in such young promising players as Lebedev,
mixed them with a few solid established players that,
for some reason, were rejected by the bigger teams of
the elite league. Kulagin's educational talent and unprecedented
motivational skills brought the fantastic results. Krylya
Sovetov became one of the top competitors in the USSR.
Kulagin was able to beat the mighty CSKA led by Tarasov
himself and won the national Championship in 1974.
In 1974, Kulagin was appointed as the head coach of Team
USSR. Under his guidance, the team managed to win gold
medals at several World Championships and at the Olympics
in 1976, won the USSR vs. WHA Summit in 1974 and managed
to have a successful CSKA and Krylya Sovetov vs. NHL teams
tour in 1975/76. Kulagin was dismissed from the national
team after a disappointing performance by the Soviet team
at the World Championships in 1976-1977. The clock was
ticking and the national team needed a new leader to bring
back the glory of Soviet hockey on the international arena.
The times of Victor Tikhonov
For a variety of reasons, Kulagin's place in the history
of Soviet hockey is somehow ambiguous. The peak of his
career belongs to the transitional time from dictatorial
era of Tarasov in the 1960s to the decade triumphing strict
discipline of Tikhonov's methodology. In a way, the years
of the national team led by Bobrov
and, then, by Kulagin in the mid 1970s were the only period
of, what one might call, a "liberal" coaching
in the history of Soviet hockey.