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Igor_Larionov

Igor Larionov

Igor Nikolayevich Larionov (Игорь Николаевич Ларионов; born December 3, 1960 in Voskresensk, Soviet Union now Russia) is a retired Russian ice hockey player. Along with Viacheslav Fetisov, he was instrumental in breaking the barrier that stopped Soviet players from joining the National Hockey League. He primarily played the center position, and is considered one of the best passers of all time.

Playing career

Larionov won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002). He finished his career by playing two games for the Swedish team Brunflo IK in 2005–06, producing one goal and three assists. Brunflo is the same team that his former linemate in CSKA Moscow and the Soviet Union, Vladimir Krutov, ended his career with ten years earlier.

On the international stage, playing for the Soviet Union, Larionov centered Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov on the famed "KLM Line". Along with defensemen Viacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov, they formed the "Green Unit", so named because they wore green jerseys in practice. All five players also played for CSKA Moscow.

He won two golds (1984, 1988) and one bronze for Russia (2002) in the Olympics, and four golds (1982, 1983, 1986, 1989), one silver (1987), and one bronze (1985) in the World Championships. He was an instrumental member of the Soviet squad that won the 1981 Canada Cup (this tournament was the coming out of the KLM Line) and played in the 1984 and 1987 events as well. He then played for Russia in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

Like many Soviet players, Larionov chafed under the draconian coaching style of Viktor Tikhonov, who doubled as coach of CSKA and the Soviet national team. He'd been drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1985, but Tikhonov used his Communist Party connections to keep him from leaving until 1989. Larionov was particularly upset that Tikhonov kept his players confined to barracks for as much as 11 months a year even when they were married (CSKA was a functioning division of the Soviet Army). He told a Russian magazine that with the players being away from home for so long, "it is a wonder our wives manage to give birth.

Larionov eventually became the leader of the Soviet players' efforts to win their freedom, leading Tikhonov to kick him off the Soviet national team under suspicion that he might defect to the West. Only the lobbying of Fetisov and other players brought Larionov back to the squad.

Larionov went to the NHL in 1989, along with many other Soviet players, including all four of his "Green Unit" mates. They were sold in order to infuse the cash-strapped Sovintersport (the governing body for sports in the former Soviet Union), which would draw a portion of the players' salaries. Larionov joined the Canucks, along with Krutov, and both struggled initially. While Krutov lasted only one year in the NHL, Larionov played three years for the Canucks and got progressively better as he adapted to the North American game. In the 1991–92 season, he centered the Canucks' top line, which included Greg Adams and rookie Pavel Bure. Larionov took the young Russian star under his wing that season.

After his three-year contract with the Canucks had expired, Larionov chose to play a year in Switzerland so that Sovintersport would not continue to draw a portion of his salary. He returned to the NHL with the San Jose Sharks in 1993–94, where he was re-united with Sergei Makarov and helped the Sharks to a record 59-point improvement over the previous season. The Sharks then upset the heavily favoured Detroit Red Wings in the opening round of the playoffs and extended the Toronto Maple Leafs to seven games in the Conference Semi-Finals before falling.

During the 1995–96, the re-building Sharks traded Larionov to the Detroit Red Wings. Larionov was one of five members of the Red Wings' "Russian Five" unit in the mid-1990s, which emulated the five-man units (three forwards and two defencemen) made famous on most Soviet teams. He and Fetisov were looked on as father figures by the team's other Russian players, which included Sergei Fedorov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, and Vladimir Konstantinov.

In 2000, Larionov signed with the Florida Panthers, where he was re-united with Pavel Bure. It was a disaster, though, and Larionov was traded back to Detroit before the end of the season. He played his final NHL season for the New Jersey Devils in 2003–04, where Viacheslav Fetisov was an assistant coach.

Larionov is married to former figure skater Elena Botanova and has three children, Alyonka, Diana and Igor II. Currently, he is a professional wine merchant making wines under the labels "Hattrick" and "Triple Overtime" with wines from Australia and California.

On June 17, 2008, it was announced that Larionov would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player.

Career statistics

    Regular Season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1977–78 Khimik Voskresensk RSL 6 3 0 3 4 -- -- -- -- --
1978–79 Khimik Voskresensk RSL 32 3 4 7 12 -- -- -- -- --
1979–80 Khimik Voskresensk RSL 42 11 7 18 24 -- -- -- -- --
1980–81 Khimik Voskresensk RSL 43 22 23 45 36 -- -- -- -- --
1981–82 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 46 31 22 53 6 -- -- -- -- --
1982–83 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 44 20 19 39 20 -- -- -- -- --
1983–84 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 43 15 26 41 30 -- -- -- -- --
1984–85 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 40 18 28 46 20 -- -- -- -- --
1985–86 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 40 21 31 52 33 -- -- -- -- --
1986–87 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 39 20 26 46 34 -- -- -- -- --
1987–88 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 51 25 32 57 54 -- -- -- -- --
1988–89 HC CSKA Moscow RSL 31 15 12 27 22 -- -- -- -- --
1989–90 Vancouver Canucks NHL 74 17 27 44 20 -- -- -- -- --
1990–91 Vancouver Canucks NHL 64 13 21 34 14 6 1 0 1 6
1991–92 Vancouver Canucks NHL 72 21 44 65 54 13 3 7 10 4
1992–93 HC Lugano NLA 24 10 19 29 44 8 3 15 18 0
1993–94 San Jose Sharks NHL 60 18 38 56 40 14 5 13 18 10
1994–95 San Jose Sharks NHL 33 4 20 24 14 11 1 8 9 2
1995–96 San Jose Sharks NHL 4 1 1 2 0 -- -- -- -- --
1995–96 Detroit Red Wings NHL 69 21 50 71 34 19 6 7 13 6
1996–97 Detroit Red Wings NHL 64 12 42 54 26 20 4 8 12 8
1997–98 Detroit Red Wings NHL 69 8 39 47 40 22 3 10 13 12
1998–99 Detroit Red Wings NHL 75 14 49 63 48 7 0 2 2 0
1999–00 Detroit Red Wings NHL 79 9 38 47 28 9 1 2 3 6
2000–01 Florida Panthers NHL 26 5 6 11 10 -- -- -- -- --
2000–01 Detroit Red Wings NHL 39 4 25 29 28 6 1 3 4 2
2001–02 Detroit Red Wings NHL 70 11 32 43 50 18 5 6 11 4
2002–03 Detroit Red Wings NHL 74 10 33 43 48 -- -- -- -- --
2003–04 New Jersey Devils NHL 49 1 10 11 20 -- -- -- -- --
2005–06 Brunflo IK Swe-3 2 1 3 4 2 -- -- -- -- --
RSL Totals 457 204 230 434 295 -- -- -- -- --
NHL Totals 921 169 475 644 474 150 30 67 97 60

References

External links

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