Oleg Znarok steps down as Russian hockey coach

MOSCOW -- Oleg Znarok has stepped down as coach of Russia's hockey team less than two months after it captured a first Olympic title in 26 years.

Russian Hockey Federation president Vladislav Tretiak told domestic news agencies Thursday that Znarok "got tired psychologically" and would be replaced by Ilya Vorobyov for next month's world championship in Denmark, though he will still work with the team as a consultant.

It wasn't immediately clear if the switch would be permanent.

Znarok's longtime assistant Harijs Vitolins has also left his post. The Russian Hockey Federation issued a statement saying it "thanks (Znarok and Vitolins) with all its heart ... for their work with the national team."

Playing as "Olympic Athletes from Russia" as part of the country's punishment for doping scandals, Znarok's team beat Germany 4-3 in overtime in the Pyeongchang final at the first Games since 1994 to be without NHL players.

The last Russian team to win gold was the post-Soviet Unified Team in 1992. Znarok's side was the first to win gold exclusively representing Russia, though earlier teams featured predominantly Russian players.

Znarok became coach in March 2014, taking over a team that lost in the quarterfinals on home ice at the Sochi Olympics. He also won world championship gold with Russia in 2014.

He doubled up as coach of Russian Kontinental Hockey League team SKA St. Petersburg, which has not confirmed whether he will remain in that post next season after it lost in the Western Conference finals.