Russia HC Bilyaletdinov: 'Eat me alive right now ... and I won't be here anymore'

Feb 19, 1:00 PM

Russia's stunning early elimination from the men's hockey tournament in the quarterfinals against Finland on Wednesday left the proud nation scrambling for answers, starting at the team's despondent head coach.

Zinetula Bilyaletdinov took full responsibility for the team's performance after the disappointing finish, describing the tournament as "unsuccessful" during a post-game press conference but refusing to second-guess decisions in the heat of the moment.

"I don't want to talk about this now," Bilyaletdinov said when asked about whether or not he would shuffle the lines if given another chance. "I'm at fault for everything. I didn't fulfill the task before me."

Bilyaletdinov also apologized to Russian fans for not meeting expectations.

A rare moment of levity occurred after the press conference in a the middle of a scrum between Bilyaletdinov Russian reporters, who provided this exchange:

Q (Reporter): What future, if any, do you see for your own work and for your coaching staff? Because, you know, your predecessor was eaten alive after the Olympics—

A (Bilyaletdinov): Well then, eat me alive right now—

Q: No, I mean—

A: Eat me, and I won't be here anymore.

Q: But we have the world championship coming up!

A: Well then, there will be a different coach because I won't exist any more, since you will have eaten me.

Q: But you're staying, aren't you?

A: Yes, I will remain living.

Mar 8, 9:12 AM

Former Team Russia coach Bilyaletdinov says KHL needs less foreigners

Mar 8, 9:12 AM

Russia is still enraged over its loss to Finland in the quarterfinals at the Olympics in Sochi last month. The players were let down by the decisions made by coaching staff. The loss was a huge disappointment to the host country.

As the chips began to fall and head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was fired from his position with the National Team, speaking out was his next step.

What's the solution to becoming a contender for a medal in Pyeongchang, South Korea? Less foreign players in the KHL, says Bilyaletdinov. 

"It's not right to exceed the limit that we have now," he told R-sport. "I worked with the national team, I understand the situation. We need to be thinking in terms of a reduction (in the number of foreign players). We need to let our guys play. The optimal option is three to four foreigners."

Bilyaletdinov filed to be reinstated as head coach and that claim was refused by the Russian Federation on Wednesday, according to R-sport

Russia is still looking for their first post-Soviet gold medal at the Olympics, and it won't be coming courtesy of Bilyaletdinov.