Alexei Zhamnov is expected to be the new head coach of the FHR ©Getty Images

Alexei Zhamnov is to be the head coach of the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (FHR) national team for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, after the squad was initially expected to be led by Pyeongchang 2018 gold medal-winning head coach Oleg Znarok.

On Friday (September 24), FHR President Vladislav Tretyak announced the team would be led by Znarok, but it has now been revealed that the Expert Council of the FHR recommended the appointment of Zhamnov, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

Yesterday, Tretyak said that Znarok had not signed a contract.

Zhamnov and Tretyak were joined by two-time Olympic champion Boris Mikhailov, Olympic champion Valery Kamensky and Nagano 1998 Olympics hero Pavel Bure in a meeting yesterday.

"We had several candidates, we discussed each, but in the end everyone agreed that Zhamnov was the best option," said Mikhailov to TASS.

"He has many advantages, but I don’t want to go into details."

Kamensky explained that both Zhamnov and Znarok were the main contenders, but the Olympic champion from 1992 was given the nod.

"The Council had several candidates, including Aleksey Zhamnov and Oleg Znarok," said Kamensky, as quoted by the FHR press service.

"After a long debate, most of the Council members supported Zhamnov's candidacy."

Znarok led the men's Russian team to gold at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics and gold at the 2014 World Championships too.

Oleg Znarok will not have his contract extended to Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images
Oleg Znarok will not have his contract extended to Beijing 2022 ©Getty Images

Despite all sources pointing to Zhamnov as the new head coach, he admits that this has not been confirmed yet in writing.

"The agreement is [calculated] for a year, but it is still under discussion, I will still meet with the Federation, we will discuss all these nuances," said Zhamnov to TASS.

"Therefore, we will start working with the coaching staff in a single direction, we need to create a single team, and it depends on each coach."

On September 3, it was confirmed that players from the National Hockey League (NHL) would be eligible to compete at the Games, but this agreement can be revoked up until January 10 if the league or players' union deem the COVID-19 threat unsafe.

If confirmed, Zhamnov must have his coaching team announced by October 12.

Zhamnov has won Olympic medals of all colours in ice hockey and played 13 seasons in the NHL.

Russia is to play under the FHR name at major non-Olympic events due to the two-year ban implemented by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the World Anti-Doping Agency on the nation due to state-sponsored doping in sport.

The suspension means Russia cannot compete under its name, flag or national anthem, nor host or bid to host major competitions until December 2022.

During Beijing 2022, the team will be known as the Russian Olympic Committee or "ROC", as it did at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.