Alexei Morozov

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For the Russian footballer, see Aleksey Morozov (footballer).
Alexei Morozov
Alex Morozov Dec 2010.jpg
Born (1977-02-16) 16 February 1977 (age 37)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Weight 196 lb (89 kg; 14 st 0 lb)
Position Right wing
Shoots Left
KHL team
Former teams
CSKA Moscow
Krylya Sovetov Moscow
Pittsburgh Penguins
Ak Bars Kazan
National team  Russia
NHL Draft 24th overall, 1995
Pittsburgh Penguins
Playing career 1993–present

Alexei Alekseyevich Morozov (Russian: Алексей Алексе́евич Морозов; born 16 February 1977) is a Russian professional ice hockey player currently playing for CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). The longtime captain of Ak Bars Kazan, after nine years with the team, signed a two-year deal with the Red Army club on 13 May 2013.[1]

He is the former captain of the Russian national team, holding the post from 2007–2011, with the team winning 2 gold, 1 silver (missed tournament due to injury, Kovalchuk captained) and 1 bronze medal at the World Championships during this time. He was succeeded, as national team captain, by his Ak Bars team mate Ilya Nikulin, in 2012.

Morozov is considered one of the best hockey players in the world currently not playing in the National Hockey League.[according to whom?][citation needed]

Playing career[edit]

Pittsburgh Penguins[edit]

Morozov was drafted in the first round, 24th overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft.[2] After being drafted, he remained in Russia and did not join the Penguins until the 1997–98 NHL season. Morozov began his career much like Pittsburgh legend Mario Lemieux, scoring on his first shot on his first shift of his first game as a Penguin. He played seven seasons for the Penguins, totaling 451 games, 84 goals, and 219 points.

In his seven year NHL career, Morozov earned the nickname The Devil Killer for his notorious success against the New Jersey Devils.[3] In fact, New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur in an interview before a Penguins/Devils game on Fox Sports Net jokingly stated that he had nightmares of Morozov each night before his club would play the Penguins. Brodeur also stated in an interview with ESPN's Dan Patrick that Morozov is the player that he would not like to see coming in on him on a breakaway adding " The kid's got probably over 25 percent of his career goals on me. It's unbelievable." when asked to explain Morozov's success against him Brodeur added " I don't know. If you figure it out, please tell me. When he shoots the puck, I never catch it really clean. When he's going to make a pass, I think he's shooting. When he's shooting, I think he's making a pass. The guy's in my kitchen. He's in my head. I can't get rid of him."[4] He also won an Olympic Silver Medal on the 1998 Russian Olympic Team during his rookie year with the Penguins. Despite these successes, Morozov never fully developed into the player he had the potential to be as he played a majority of his first few seasons in the NHL on the third and fourth lines due to the tremendous depth of a talent laden Penguins team that included stars such as Mario Lemieux, Jaromír Jágr, Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka and Robert Lang among others.[3]

He finally got his chance on the starting line during the 2002–03 season and the KLM line of Kovalev, Lemieux and Morozov led the Penguins to a top three record in the conference the first third of the season before being dismantled by injuries and trades. After bursting onto the scene with 25 points in 27 games, Morozov suffered a fractured wrist by a crushing hit that ended his season[3] and Lemieux became bogged down by back problems which forced him to call it a year. Kovalev was later traded at the NHL trade deadline to the New York Rangers.

The next season saw Morozov off to a slow start, mainly due to injury and the lack of talent on a young Penguins team. However, down the stretch of the 2003–04 season, Morozov was instrumental to the Penguins late season success, leading the team with five game-winning goals, including two in the final three games of the season as well as netting 20 points in the final 15 games. He would also finish the season leading all Penguins forwards in points.

Ak Bars Kazan[edit]

Morozov with Ak Bars Kazan in 2011–12

During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Morozov went back to Russia to hone his skills and play for the Ak Bars Kazan[3] of the Russian Superleague (RSL), for whom he has played since. He would see significant ice-time on a talent laden Ak-Bars team that included NHL stars such as Vincent Lecavalier, Dany Heatley, Ilya Kovalchuk, Brad Richards and Nikolai Antropov. Despite these marquee NHL names, it would be Morozov who would go on to lead the club in scoring with 46 points.

2005–06 season[edit]

With the NHL's future still up in the air, Morozov signed a one-year contract with Kazan in hopes to build upon his previous season's success. The 2005–06 season proved a great one for Morozov, where he finished the regular season leading the league in goals (23) and being second in points (49) after Sergei Mozyakin (52) while leading Ak Bars to its first championship win in nearly ten years.[3] He was instrumental in his teams long playoff run, amassing 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in just 13 games en route to Playoff MVP.[3] He was also qualified for six other RSL league awards, two of which he won.

As they built on their chemistry from the 2004–05 season that eventually led to dominance during the 2005–06 season, the Kazan line of Sergei Zinovjev, Danis Zaripov, and Morozov himself came to be known throughout the world as the ZZM Line. During the 2006 RSL playoff run, the ZZM Line amassed 51 points in just 13 games. Although they would only see one more full season together after 2005–06 due to injuries, the ZZM Line has been widely regarded as the best European line produced since the Cold War Era for their championship style of play leading Ak-Bars to one RSL championship, one KHL championship, one European Cup Championship, and Team Russia to two Gold Medal World Championships.

The off-season choice of whether to remain in the RSL or return to the NHL was a very difficult one for Morozov, as he wanted to join his compatriots Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin in the NHL but he also had a great relationship and close ties with Ak Bars. However, in the end, Morozov chose to sign an undisclosed contract to stay with his Russian club in hopes of winning back-to-back championships.[3]

2006–07[edit]

When the regular season ended, Morozov led the league and established new Super League record in points (83)[3] as Ak Bars Kazan had a league leading 119 points and well on the way to an unprecedented second straight championship. He became the first and only player in the history of the RSL to top the eighty points in a season and his 83 points broke the old record of 79 held by Sergei Makarov. This is a record that will stand the test of time as in just two more years the RSL would be replaced by a greater league spanning four countries. After quickly dispatching of Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the opening round in three games, Ak Bars then defeated Khimik Moscow Oblast and CSKA Moscow in four games each to advance to the finals to face Metallurg Magnitogorsk. In a final decisive game five, Ak Bars would come up short losing the final game by the score of 2–1. Despite not matching his stellar numbers of the 2005–06 season, Morozov finished the playoffs with a league leading 15 assists in 14 games.

During the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) European Championship Cup (ECC) in January 2007, Morozov earned the titles of best forward and MVP as he led Ak Bars to the championship[3] by defeating the SM-liiga club HPK 6–0, reaffirming Russian dominance at the tournament.

Shortly after the 2006–07 RSL season ended, Morozov was chosen to represent Russia as an Alternate Captain at the International Hockey World Championship (IHWC). Despite missing two games to a minor knee injury, in just seven games he finished first in goals with eight while finishing second in points as well as capturing the title of best forward at the tournament.

2007–08[edit]

The following and final RSL season proved another successful one for Morozov as he continued his dominance of the league by finishing in the tops in scoring and leading Ak Bars to the playoffs once again but would come up one game and one goal short of the finals in another heartbreaking 4–3 loss to Salavat Yulaev Ufa. The 2007–08 RSL season would be the last in the league's history, as it would be replaced by the newly formed Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) at the start of the 2008–09 season. The KHL comprised the 20 current teams from the RSL, as well as Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg of the Vysshaya Liga, Barys Astana from Kazakhstan, Dynamo Minsk from Belarus, as well as a team from Latvia based in Riga known as Dinamo Riga.

Due to his previous year's success with the Russian national team at the 2007 World Championship, Morozov was chosen as Captain of the 2008 squad. With Morozov in the lineup the previous year, Russia went undefeated until he suffered a knee injury and the 2007 squad without their alternate captain would finish 1–1 and fall short of the Gold once again. However, with Morozov as their captain and in the lineup, Russia would go undefeated once again and capture the Gold by defeating Canada in a thrilling overtime contest 5–4. The gold medal score was Russia's first in 15 years and would be Russia's 24th overall, tying Canada for the most gold medals by any county. The 2008 IIHF World Championship also marked 100 years of World Championship hockey.

2008–09[edit]

Morozov with the Russian team in a game versus the Czech Republic

In 2008, his Russian club Ak Bars Kazan joined the Kontinetal Hockey League. Although Morozov was limited to only 49 games due to a freak head on collision with Atlant Moscow goaltender Ray Emery, he finished second in scoring with 70 points (32 goals and 38 assists). Following the season's end, Ak Bars swept Barys Astana in the Round of 16 and defeat them in season series 3–0. In the quarterfinals they would face the talent-laden Avangard Omsk and dispatch them in a final decisive game five 3–2 in overtime.

For the semi-finals and finals matches, the playoff series length was increased to seven games for the final four teams in it and in their semi-final match-up, Kazan defeated Dynamo Moscow 4–2 and would go on to face Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the finals, making it the third time in five years that Ak Bars has made it to the finals. Although Ak Bars would get off to a slow start, getting outscored in their first three games by a combined score of 9–4 including two shutout losses, they and captain Aleksey Morozov would turn it on when it mattered. Finding themselves down 3–2 in the series, Ak Bars would snatch game six away from Lokomotiv in overtime and in the final decisive game seven their captain provided all the offense the team needed as Morozov scored the lone goal in a 1–0 victory making Kazan the first team to ever capture the Gagarin Cup and first ever KHL champions.

Due to his incredible success in the KHL as well as his previous success in captaining Russia to a World Championship, Morozov was once again chosen as Captain for the 2009 IHWC squad. He would not disappoint as Russia would go on to steamroll their opponents in the opening rounds of play and would soon find themselves in a rematch of the previous years championship game against Canada. In yet another exciting contest, Russia would once again capture the Gold by defeating Canada 2–1 giving them the most Gold Medals by any country with 25. From 2006–2009, Team Russia was a perfect 21–0 with Morozov in their lineup in World Championship hockey.

2009–10[edit]

Morozov was chosen as Captain for Team Russia at the 2010 Winter Olympics, as well as the flagbearer for the Russian Olympic Team.[5] Despite a talented roster, Team Russia would fall to eventual Olympic Gold champion Canada in the opening elimination round. As of 2010, Canada and Russia stand tied with the most gold medals of any ice hockey national team with 25 between Olympic and World Championship tournaments.

Despite the devastating Olympic loss, Morozov did not let it bother him on the ice as he led Ak-Bars to their second straight Gagarin Cup as KHL champions. The 2009–10 season was an up and down one for Morozov as he battle injuries down the stretch in the second half of the KHL season where he missed several key playoff games and even had to miss the 2010 World Championships, where Team Russia would lose for the first time in over 3 years without their Captain and have to settle for Silver.

The injury bug would plague Morozov down the stretch of Ak-Bars KHL playoff run as well, however, due in large part to his leadership on and off the ice Ak-Bars would capture their second consecutive Gagarin Cup as KHL champions. This victory made Ak-Bars the first club in the KHL to not only win the Gagarin Cup but to win the trophy twice and back-to-back.

Honours[edit]

Dmitry Medvedev 20 May 2008-1.jpg
Morozov at the Moscow Kremlin with Dmitry Medvedev
Medal record
Representing  Russia
Men's ice hockey
Olympic Games
Silver 1998 Nagano
World Championships
Gold 2009 Switzerland
Gold 2008 Canada
Bronze 2007 Russia
World Junior Championships
Bronze 1997 Switzerland
Bronze 1996 United States
  • CIS - Rookie of the Year: 1994–95 [6]
  • World Junior Championship All-Star 1996[6]
  • Best Best Forward at WJC 1997[6]
  • Olympic Silver Medal (Russia): 1998
  • Russian Super League Championship: 2006
  • Ceska Pojistovna: 2006
  • Kubok Pervogo Kanala: 2006
  • RSL Goal Scoring Champion: 2006
  • RSL Playoff MVP: 2006
  • European Champions: 2007
  • Best Forward (ECC): 2007
  • Most Valuable Player (ECC): 2007
  • RSL Goal Scoring Champion: 2007
  • RSL MVP: 2007
  • Best Forward (IHWC): 2007
  • World Championship (Russia): 2008
  • Gagarin Cup: 2009
  • KHL Playoff MVP: 2009
  • World Championship (Russia): 2009
  • Gagarin Cup: 2010

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1993–94 Krylya Sovetov Moscow IHL/CIS 7 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0
1994–95 Krylya Sovetov Moscow IHL/CIS 48 15 12 27 53 4 0 3 3 0
1995–96 Krylya Sovetov Moscow IHL/CIS 47 13 9 22 26
1996–97 Krylya Sovetov Moscow RSL 44 21 11 32 32 2 0 1 1 2
1997–98 Krylya Sovetov Moscow RSL 6 2 1 3 4
1997–98 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 76 13 13 26 8 6 0 1 1 2
1998–99 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 67 9 10 19 14 10 1 1 2 0
1999–00 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 68 12 19 31 14 5 0 0 0 0
2000–01 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 66 5 14 19 6 18 3 3 6 6
2001–02 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 72 20 29 49 16
2002–03 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 27 9 16 25 16
2003–04 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 75 16 34 50 24
2004–05 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 58 20 26 46 30 4 0 1 1 2
2005–06 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 51 23 26 49 69 13 13 13 26 8
2006–07 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 53 34 49 83 36 14 2 15 17 6
2007–08 Ak Bars Kazan RSL 57 30 33 63 34 10 4 7 11 8
2008–09 Ak Bars Kazan KHL 49 32 39 71 22 21 8 11 19 12
2009–10 Ak Bars Kazan KHL 50 26 23 49 24 18 5 7 12 6
2010–11 Ak Bars Kazan KHL 53 21 35 56 24 9 5 4 9 3
2011–12 Ak Bars Kazan KHL 53 21 29 50 24 5 4 2 6 6
2012–13 Ak Bars Kazan KHL 51 12 26 37 20 18 6 9 15 4
2013–14 CSKA Moscow KHL 38 13 10 23 30 4 0 0 0 0
KHL totals 294 125 162 287 144 75 28 33 61 30
NHL totals 451 84 135 219 98 39 4 5 9 8

International statistics[edit]

Year Team Event Place   GP G A Pts PIM
1996 Russia WJC 3 7 5 3 8 2
1997 Russia WJC 3 6 5 3 8 6
Junior int'l totals 13 10 6 16 8
1997 Russia WC 4th 9 3 3 6 2
1998 Russia Oly 2 6 2 2 4 0
1998 Russia WC 5th 4 0 3 3 2
2004 Russia WC 10th 6 1 1 2 4
2007 Russia WC 3 7 8 5 13 6
2008 Russia WC 1 8 5 2 7 4
2009 Russia WC 1 9 1 4 5 0
2010 Russia Oly 6th 4 2 0 2 0
2011 Russia WC 4th 9 1 3 4 8
Senior int'l totals 62 23 23 46 26

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Морозов и Мишарин переходят в ЦСКА" (in Russian). CSKA-hockey.ru. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 28 July 2013. 
  2. ^ "Aleksey Morozov". Hockey Reference.com. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Russian Sport Stars Morozov Alexi Ice Hockey". Sports Express.ru. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  4. ^ "Outtakes with Martin Brodeur". ESPN.com. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  5. ^ Jamie Bell (2010-02-11). "Morozov to carry Russian flag at Opening Ceremony". CTV Olympics.ca. Archived from the original on 13 March 2010. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 
  6. ^ a b c "Aleksey Morozov - Notes". NHL.com. Retrieved 2010-04-17. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Chris Wells
Pittsburgh Penguins first round draft pick
1995
Succeeded by
Craig Hillier
Olympic Games
Preceded by
Dmitry Dorofeyev
Flagbearer for  Russia
Vancouver 2010
Succeeded by
Alexandr Zubkov