ASTANA – With 32 days left until the 2009 IIHF World Championship Division I Group A in Lithuania, Yerlan Sagymbayev, the head coach of second-seeded Kazakhstan, announced his resignation.
The 38-year-old resigned at an executive meeting of the Kazakh Ice Hockey Federation last week. After the team’s third-place finish at the Final Olympic Qualification in Oslo, Norway, he didn’t have much of a choice.
“If Yerlan Sagymbayev hadn’t resigned, the members of the executive committee would have voted to replace him,” the organization’s General Secretary Yuri Zverev said to sports.kz. He also criticized that many Kazakhs playing for Russian clubs refuse to represent the Kazakh national team.
Kazakhstan won its Olympic Pre-Qualification tournament as the top-seeded team but missed the 2010 Olympic berth after close losses against Denmark and Norway at the Final Olympic Qualification tournament.
Kazakhstan’s men’s national team appeared in two Olympic Winter Games and in four top division World Championships since joining the IIHF in 1992 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since its relegation at the 2006 World Championship in Latvia, the team hasn’t made it back to the elite nations.