Putin’s friend’s son named head coach of richest Russian hockey team
The son of Russian President’s close ally Vladimir Putin has been appointed head coach of Russia’s richest hockey team SKA St. Petersburg, drawing criticism from sports commentators for his inexperience as a coach.
Roman Rotenberg, 40, is the son of Boris Rotenberg – who is Putin’s childhood friend, former judo training partner and recreational hockey teammate. Roman Rotenberg was previously vice-president of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and its SKA St. Petersburg team, led by another Putin ally, Gennady Timchenko, and owned by state gas giant Gazprom.
SKA noted in an official announcement that Rotenberg replaced Valery Bragin as head coach, who was also sidelined as head coach of the Russian national men’s hockey team last fall, to “improve the management of the team”.
Bragin himself has described Rotenberg’s appointment as a “formalization” of his de facto position over the past month.
“Everything worked, we got some positive results,” Bragin said in a statement from SKA.
Rotenberg compared his new appointment in the career of veteran football manager José Mourinho, who he said had “absorbed all his techniques” from his predecessors “and became a very successful coach”.
“There are a lot of such trainers in history,” said the sports.ru news site, quoted by him. “It’s my life, it gives me the opportunity to flourish and be better than yesterday.”
Sports commentators quickly questioned Rotenberg’s credentials.
“In an ideal world, a coach would start with kids or young men, take their shots and gain valuable experience. “ noted sport-express.ru. “But a person of his status doesn’t have time to go through all the levels.”
“This is his first job as a head coach, he has never played at a professional level,” according to the Russian edition of the US-funded RFE / RL news agency. noted in his report on Rotenberg’s appointment.
Rotenberg himself defended his expertise, telling broadcaster Match TV last fall that he watched 800 KHL and national team games since 2014.