Igor Larionov

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This article is about the ice hockey player. For the footballer, see Igor Anatolyevich Larionov.
Igor Larionov
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2008
Igor Larionov retouched.jpg
Larionov at the HHOF Legends Game in 2008
Born (1960-12-03) December 3, 1960 (age 53)
Voskresensk, Russian SFSR,
 Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for NHL
 Vancouver Canucks
 San Jose Sharks
 Detroit Red Wings
 Florida Panthers
 New Jersey Devils
 RSL
 Khimik Voskresensk
 CSKA Moscow
 NLA
 Lugano
 Allsvenskan
 Brunflo
National team  Soviet Union 
 Russia
NHL Draft 214th overall, 1985
Vancouver Canucks
Playing career 1977–2006

Igor Nikolayevich Larionov (Russian: Игорь Николаевич Ларионов; born December 3, 1960) is a Russian agent and retired professional ice hockey player, known as The Professor. Along with Viacheslav Fetisov, he was instrumental in breaking the barrier that kept Soviet players from joining the National Hockey League (NHL). He primarily played the centre position, and is considered one of the best passers of all time. Larionov won three Stanley Cup championships with the Detroit Red Wings (1997, 1998, 2002) and was inducted as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 10, 2008.

Playing career[edit]

Soviet League (1977–89)[edit]

Larionov began his career in the Soviet League with Khimik Voskresensk in 1977–78, appearing in six games. Joining the club full-time the following season, he recorded seven points in 32 games as a rookie. He improved to 45 points in 43 games in 1980–81, garnering the attention of CSKA Moscow and Soviet national team coach Viktor Tikhonov. Tikhonov approached him before a game between CSKA and Khimik early in the 1980–81 season, inviting Larionov to play for him. He notched five assists that game against Tikhonov's team and the following season, joined CSKA Moscow as the top-line centre between Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov.[1] The trio became known as the "KLM Line" and dominated both the Soviet League and international competition.[2] They were joined by defensive pairing Viacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov to form the five-man lineup known as the "Green Unit", so called for the green uniforms they wore during practice.[3]

Larionov put up 53 points in his first season with CSKA, including a Soviet career-high 31 goals. He was named the Soviet MVP in 1988 following a personal best 32 assists and 57 points. Despite the success, Larionov resisted Tikhonov's draconian coaching style and the Soviet system that had a tight grip on the players' personal lives.[4] He objected that Tikhonov kept his players confined to barracks (in CSKA's Archangel training facility) for as much as 11 months a year, even when they were married (CSKA was a functioning division of the Soviet Army).[5] 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."[6] Larionov also recounted suspicious injections that national team players would receive annually leading up to the World Championships. After refusing injection prior to the 1982 World Championships, he was not asked again.[7]

Larionov led the revolt with Fetisov against Soviet authorities that prevented Soviet players to defect to the NHL. He had been drafted by the Vancouver Canucks in 1985 and openly expressed a desire to move to North America. After talking to reporters about one day playing in the NHL, Tikhonov told Larionov that there was a mix-up with his passport and that he could not join the team for their six-city tour of the NHL in December 1985.[8] He was to be kept off the national squad as well until the lobbying of Fetisov and other players returned Larionov to the team.

National Hockey League (1989–2004)[edit]

After eight years of voicing his discontent,[9] Larionov was allowed to join the Canucks in 1989–90. He left the Soviet Union along with many other Soviet players, including all four of his "Green Unit" teammates. 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 was joined in Vancouver by 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 1994-95 season, Larionov served as an alternate captain for the Sharks.

During the 1995–96 season, the re-building Sharks traded Larionov along with a conditional draft pick to the Detroit Red Wings for forward sniper Ray Sheppard. Red Wings coach and general manager Scotty Bowman had specifically targeted Larionov for his all-around game, noting his ability to play both the power play and penalty kill with equal success.[10] Larionov was one of five members of the Red Wings' "Russian Five" unit in the mid-1990s. 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.

Larionov was an integral part of the Red Wings' back to back Stanley Cup Championships in 1997 and 1998. Larionov was the first player handed the Cup by captain Steve Yzerman after the 1997 clinching victory. That summer, Larionov and his Russian teammates made history by bringing the famed Cup home to Russia for the first time ever.[11]

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. 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.

Retirement[edit]

On June 17, 2008, it was announced that Larionov would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player.[12] He was appointed to a three-year term on the Hall's selection committee on March 31, 2011.[13]

In July 2008, Larionov was named director of hockey operations for Russian hockey club SKA Saint Petersburg.[14] He also works as a player agent in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.

International play[edit]

Medal record
Competitor for Soviet Union Soviet Union
Men's ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Gold 1988 Calgary
Gold 1984 Sarajevo
World Championships
Gold 1989 Sweden
Gold 1986 Soviet Union
Gold 1983 West Germany
Gold 1982 Finland
Silver 1987 Austria
Bronze 1985 Czechoslovakia
World Junior Championships
Gold 1979 Sweden
Gold 1980 Finland
Canada Cup
Gold 1981 Canada
Competitor for Russia Russia
Men's ice hockey
Winter Olympics
Bronze 2002 Salt Lake City

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.

Larionov won two gold medals (1984, 1988) and one bronze medal for Russia (2002) at the Olympics. At the World Championships, Larionov won four golds (1982, 1983, 1986, 1989), one silver (1987), and one bronze (1985). 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.

Larionov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Joe Sakic, and Scott Niedermayer are the only four players in the world who have won Olympics Gold, World Championship Gold, a Stanley Cup (IIHF Triple Gold Club), Canada/World Cup, and World Junior Championship Gold.

Personal life[edit]

Larionov is married to former figure skater Elena Batanova 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. Other wine labels include "Slapshot" and "IL Triple Overtime." The name Triple Overtime Wine Company roots from Larionov’s winning goal in the third overtime period of Game 3 in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.[15]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1977–78 Khimik Voskresensk Soviet 6 3 0 3 4
1978–79 Khimik Voskresensk Soviet 32 3 4 7 12
1979–80 Khimik Voskresensk Soviet 42 11 7 18 24
1980–81 Khimik Voskresensk Soviet 43 22 23 45 36
1981–82 CSKA Moscow Soviet 46 31 22 53 6
1982–83 CSKA Moscow Soviet 44 20 19 39 20
1983–84 CSKA Moscow Soviet 43 15 26 41 30
1984–85 CSKA Moscow Soviet 40 18 28 46 20
1985–86 CSKA Moscow Soviet 40 21 31 52 33
1986–87 CSKA Moscow Soviet 39 20 26 46 34
1987–88 CSKA Moscow Soviet 51 25 32 57 54
1988–89 CSKA Moscow Soviet 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 4 0 1 1 0
2003–04 New Jersey Devils NHL 49 1 10 11 20 1 0 0 0 0
2005–06 Brunflo IK Swe-3 2 1 3 4 2
Soviet totals 457 204 230 434 295
NHL totals 921 169 475 644 474 150 30 67 97 60

International[edit]

Year Team Event Result   GP G A Pts PIM
1979 Soviet Union WJC Gold medal icon.svg 5 2 4 6 8
1980 Soviet Union WJC Gold medal icon.svg 5 3 3 6 4
1981 Soviet Union CC Gold medal icon.svg 7 4 1 5 8
1982 Soviet Union WC Gold medal icon.svg 10 4 6 10 2
1983 Soviet Union WC Gold medal icon.svg 9 5 7 12 4
1984 Soviet Union Oly Gold medal icon.svg 6 1 4 5 6
1984 Soviet Union CC Bronze medal icon.svg 5 1 2 3 6
1985 Soviet Union WC Bronze medal icon.svg 10 2 4 6 8
1986 Soviet Union WC Gold medal icon.svg 10 7 1 8 4
1987 Soviet Union WC Silver medal icon.svg 10 4 8 12 2
1987 Soviet Union CC Silver medal icon.svg 9 1 2 3 6
1988 Soviet Union Oly Gold medal icon.svg 8 4 9 13 4
1989 Soviet Union WC Gold medal icon.svg 8 3 0 3 11
1996 Russia WCH SF 5 0 4 4 2
2002 Russia Oly Bronze medal icon.svg 6 0 3 3 4
Junior totals 10 5 7 12 12
Senior totals 103 36 51 87 67

References[edit]

  1. ^ Willes 2007, p. 47. List of ice hockey line nicknames
  2. ^ Willes 2007, p. 48.
  3. ^ Willes 2007, p. 4, 51.
  4. ^ Willes 2007, pp. 40–42.
  5. ^ Willes 2007, pp. 45–47.
  6. ^ ESPN.com – Russians regroup on other side of the red line
  7. ^ Willes 2007, pp. 46–47.
  8. ^ Willes 2007, p. 52-53.
  9. ^ Willes 2007, p. 53.
  10. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1995-10-25/sports/9510250042_1_igor-larionov-ray-sheppard-sharks
  11. ^ http://sports.espn.go.com/oly/winter02/hockey/story?id=1326249
  12. ^ "Hockey Hall of Fame Announces 2008 Inductees". Hockey Hall of Fame. 2008-06-17. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  13. ^ "Igor Larionov joins Hockey Hall's selection committee". Montreal Gazette. 2011-03-31. Retrieved 2011-03-31. 
  14. ^ "Larionov becomes club manager". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2008-07-18. 
  15. ^ "IL Triple Overtime". Retrieved May 2, 2011. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • Willes, Ed (2007). Gretzky to Lemieux: The Story of the 1987 Canada Cup. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart. ISBN 978-0-7710-8942-8. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Vladimir Krutov
Soviet MVP
1988
Succeeded by
Sergei Makarov