Former star defenseman takes over

MOSCOW -- Viktor Tikhonov was replaced as coach of the Russian national team Friday by former star defenseman Zinetula Bilyaletdinov.

Tikhonov, a member of the International Hockey Hall of Fame, is by far the most successful coach in international hockey. He led the former Soviet Union or Russia from 1978-94, winning Olympic gold medals in 1984, '88 and '92. He also led the national team to eight world championships and the 1981 Canada Cup title against NHL players.

The 74-year-old Tikhonov will remain with the national team as a consultant.

Bilyaletdinov first played for the Soviet team in 1976 and was on six world championship winners. He won Olympic gold in 1984.

He was an assistant coach for the Winnipeg Jets and Phoenix Coyotes from 1993-97. His first major tournament will be the World Cup of Hockey later this summer.