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Youth coach fired after video shows him physically abusing kids

Mike Olivson   ·   24 janvier 2020
A candid video has taken down an abusive youth coach in Russia.

Igor Nikolaev, 49, was coaching a team of nine-year-old players in the Balashikha, Russia,the youth clubs there are operating under the larger umbrella of HK Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The video, which eventually made its way into the hands of Sport Express, shows Nikolaev repeatedly striking multiple children with his stick on the top of their helmets, as well as pushing others to the ice. The complaint came from an anonymous parent and it appears that the video is from surveillance cameras installed at the arena which were likely used in the club's subsequent investigation.

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The initial comments from the club's director, Gennady Kurdin, were less than encouraging. Kurdin, known for a hockey playing career that spanned three decades and then went on to coach youth players like Nikita Kucherov (who later bought him a car after signing an NHL contract), stated: "There is really nothing serious in what took place. From outside, it looks terrible, but if you look from the inside... Nobody wants to talk about the problems of youth hockey, but when something like this happens, it floats right to the surface and the journalists pounce. There is nothing criminal going on here, or the [police] would have already been called. There is a lot of this in hockey. Someone needed to [get Nikolaev fired] so they released the video."

Nikolaev was fired later, with Avangard issuing a statement through its youth development director Nikita Tarasevich. The statement says that Avangard conducted an immediate investigation upon receiving a report of improper behaviour on the coach's part. "Despite some parents lobbying on the coach's behalf, citing his meritorious work in the organization, we have decided to part ways with him, after studying the video material at our disposal," said Tarasevich.

Tarasevich stated the club will make all necessary efforts to prevent future incidents of this sort, and any coaches in the system will receive proper training in regards to coaching ethics. Tarasevich also said that the club is not happy that confidential video information was leaked out onto the internet, and the question of how this was done, who did it, and for what purpose, remains to be answered.

Igor Nikolaev has spent his entire career in Soviet and Russian hockey. Born in 1970 in Ust-Kamenogorsk, USSR (now known as Oskemen, Kazakhstan) his playing career spanned the top two levels of Russian hockey, from 1993 to 2005. He began coaching youth teams in 2009.



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