Valeri Kharlamov

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Valeri Kharlamov
Hockey Hall of Fame, 2005
Valeri Kharlamov HeadShot.jpg
Born (1948-01-14)14 January 1948
Moscow, Russian SFSR,
Soviet Union
Died 27 August 1981(1981-08-27) (aged 33)
Solnechnogorsky District, Russian SFSR,
Soviet Union
Height 5 ft 8 in (173 cm)
Weight 165 lb (75 kg; 11 st 11 lb)
Position Left Wing
Shot Left
Played for CSKA Moscow
National team  Soviet Union
Playing career 1967–1981

Valeri Borisovich Kharlamov (Russian: Валерий Борисович Харламов, IPA: [xɐrˈlaməf]; 14 January 1948 – 27 August 1981) was an ice hockey forward who played for CSKA Moscow in the Soviet League from 1967 until 1981. Kharlamov was widely considered one of the best players of his era, despite never playing in the National Hockey League (NHL). Although small in stature, Kharlamov was speedy, intelligent and skilled. Teammates and opposing players considered him one of the best players in the world.

In international play, Kharlamov represented the Soviet Union at 11 World Championships, capturing 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze. He participated in the Olympics in 1972, 1976 and 1980, finishing with two gold medals and a silver. He spent most of his career playing on a line with Vladimir Petrov and Boris Mikhailov, and this trio was considered one of the best in the history of hockey. Kharlamov was an offensive player, who was considered very creative and intelligent on the ice. He was a gifted skater who was able to make plays at top speed.

Kharlamov's career was marred by two car accidents. The first, in 1976, was thought to be career-ending, but after diligent rehab, he returned to the ice. He was still active with CSKA Moscow in 1981 at the time of the second accident, which claimed his life along with the lives of his wife and her cousin. Kharlamov and his wife were survived by his two children, including his son, Alexander who would eventually be drafted by the Washington Capitals of the NHL. After his death, Kharlamov was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of Fame, the Russian Hockey Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the forwards on the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team. The Kharlamov Trophy is presented annually to the best Russian hockey player in the NHL, as chosen by his peers. The Kharlamov Cup is presented to the champion of the Minor Hockey League playoffs.

Early life[edit]

Kharlamov's parents were factory workers from Moscow.[1] His father was Russian, and his mother was an ethnic Basque who fled from Spain during the Civil War. He was named after Valery Chkalov, the Soviet pilot.[2] Kharlamov spent a year in Spain with his mother when he was 8 years old, but they both returned to the Soviet Union.[1] Later in his career, Kharlamov would be nicknamed "The Spaniard", because of his mother's origins.[3] He first skated when he was 7 years old, and he loved hockey from that moment. During his youth, he was small and skinny and there were continued concerns about his health. This culminated when a heart defect was discovered after he came down with tonsillitis. After this discovery, his physicians advised against further physical activity. His father, Boris, acted against the advice of the doctors and enrolled his son in the CSKA (Red Army) hockey school.[1] A later physical examination by the club cleared him for play and found no health issues.[1]

Playing career[edit]

Soviet League[edit]

While Kharlamov was climbing through the ranks in the Red Army hockey system, the head coach of the senior team was Anatoli Tarasov. Initially, Tarasov thought Kharlamov was too small to be an effective player, but he was persuaded to give him a chance by Boris Kulagin.[4] To provide the young winger with more experience, Tarasov sent him to play most of the 1967–68 season with a lower level club in Chebarkul. Kharlamov made the most of the experience, scoring 34 goals.[1] Kharlamov also appeared in 15 games with the Red Army team in the Soviet League.[5] The following season, Kharlamov joined the Red Army team full-time. He would remain with the team at the senior level until his death, a total of 14 seasons.[6] Here, he was united with Vladimir Petrov and Boris Mikhailov, the linemates he would play with most of his career.[6] During his first full season with the Red Army, Kharlamov played in 43 games, scoring 29 goals and adding 16 assists.[5] In 1969, Kharlamov was named Merited Master of Sport.[6] Although Kharlamov never played in North America, he was drafted by the Calgary Broncos of the World Hockey Association, along with Soviet teammates Petrov and Alexander Maltsev in early 1972.[7]

During his Soviet League career, he was twice named Player of the Year, in 1971–72 and 1972–73.[5] CSKA Moscow won eleven league titles in the fourteen seasons Kharlamov spent with the team.[6] At the time of his death, Kharlamov had played in 436 games, recording 507 points (293 goals, 214 assists).[5]

International play[edit]

Valeri Kharlamov
Medal record
Men's ice hockey
Competitor for Soviet Union Soviet Union
Olympic Games
Gold 1972 Sapporo
Gold 1976 Innsbruck
Silver 1980 Lake Placid
World Championships
Gold 1969 Sweden
Gold 1970 Sweden
Gold 1971 Switzerland
Silver 1972 Czechoslovakia
Gold 1973 Soviet Union
Gold 1974 Finland
Gold 1975 West Germany
Silver 1976 Poland
Bronze 1977 Austria
Gold 1978 Czechoslovakia
Gold 1979 Soviet Union
NHL Challenge Cup
Gold 1979 New York City

World Championships[edit]

Kharlamov's career in Soviet hockey was well established by the time he came to greater attention through his play in international hockey. His first tournament for the Soviet Union was the 1969 World Championship, where he helped the team capture the gold medal.[5] Kharlamov was a fixture on the Soviet national team roster for the next decade. He played in eleven World Championships in total, capturing 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze.[8] He was named to the tournament All-Star team four times (1971, 1972, 1973, and 1976).[8] He played a total of 105 games at the World Championships, scoring 74 goals and adding 82 assists (156 points).[8]

Olympics[edit]

The Soviet Union was the dominant force in international hockey during the 1970s, and Kharlamov played a big part in their gold medal victories at the 1972 and 1976 Winter Olympics. In five games during the 1972 tournament, Kharlamov scored nine goals and added seven assists.[5] Between 1972 and 1988, there were no individual awards or All-Star teams named for the Olympic hockey tournaments.[9] He captured his second gold medal with the Soviet Union in 1976, contributing three goals and six assists.[5] Kharlamov was also part of the silver medal winning Soviet team at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Their only loss at the Olympics was to the American squad, a game memorialized as the Miracle on Ice. Kharlamov finished the tournament with three goals and eight assists.[5] When his Olympic career was complete, Kharlamov had two gold medals and one silver. He had scored 14 goals and added 22 assists for 36 points in 22 career games.[8] The 1980 Olympics would be Kharlamov's last games with the Soviet National Team. He never had the chance to represent his country in Canada Cup play. He missed the 1976 Canada Cup due to the injuries he sustained in his first major car accident. Kharlamov was left off the roster for the 1981 Canada Cup just prior to his fatal car accident. According to his mother-in-law, Kharlamov had been planning to announce his retirement after playing in the 1981 tournament.[3]

Summit Series[edit]

As World Championships were commonly played in Europe, and National Hockey League (NHL) players were not allowed to participate in the Olympics either, Kharlamov and his teammates were still a somewhat unknown quantity when the 1972 Summit Series was played. The eight game series, with four games played in Canada, and four in the Soviet Union was one of the first opportunities for the two countries to pit their best hockey players against each other. Most pundits thought Canada would win convincingly. In the first game of the series, the Soviet Union stunned Canada with a 7–3 victory. Kharlamov scored two goals on Ken Dryden during the second period, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.[1][3] Fresh observers of Kharlamov's play were universally impressed. Summit Series defenseman Serge Savard ranked him as one of the top 5 players of all time.[3] Team Canada head coach Harry Sinden would later say of Kharlamov, "He had the skill and the ability of any player in the NHL at the time."[10] In the sixth game of the series, Bobby Clarke slashed Kharlamov intentionally, fracturing a bone in his ankle. He would miss the seventh game of the series, and returned to the lineup for the final game of the series, but at much reduced effectiveness. At the time, many felt the slash was intentional. Assistant coach John Ferguson would later say "I called (Bobby) Clarke over to the bench, looked over at Kharlamov and said, 'I think he needs a tap on the ankle'."[11] As for Kharlamov himself, he had little doubt that an attempt had been made to limit his effectiveness, "I'm convinced that Bobby Clarke was given the job of taking me out of the game."[11] Kharlamov's injury, and his diminished play in the aftermath have been regarded as a turning point for the series in Canada's favor.[11][12] Kharlamov was in the Soviet lineup again during the 1974 Summit Series, playing against the best Canadian players from the World Hockey Association. The Soviets were victorious in this series, with four wins, one loss and three ties. Kharlamov scored two goals and added six assists in the series.[5]

Death[edit]

Roadside memorial to Valeri Kharlamov, near the site of his fatal accident.

Kharlamov was still active with CSKA when he was killed in a car accident on August 27, 1981.[10] Prior to the accident, Kharlamov had been informed that he would not be a member of the Soviet team playing in the 1981 Canada Cup.[13] Coach Viktor Tikhonov said that Kharlamov was left off of the team over concerns about his conditioning.[3] Irina, Kharlamov's wife, was driving back to Moscow from the family's cottage when she lost control and crossed into opposing traffic, hitting a truck head-on.[1] Irina did not have a driver's license at the time of the crash. When the bodies were recovered, Kharlamov was reaching over from his seat, holding onto the steering wheel.[3] Irina's cousin was also killed.[1] Fans lined the streets during his funeral procession in Moscow, and they filed past his casket which rested at center ice of CSKA's arena.[3] Near the scene of the crash, a memorial stone in the shape of a hockey puck is inscribed "The star of Russian hockey fell here."[10]

Legacy[edit]

After his death, his teammates with CSKA decided that no one at any level of the organization would wear Kharlamov's #17 jersey, until his son Alexander was old enough to wear it.[3] Alexander wore #17 until he was a teenager, but later switched to #22, feeling that the expectations that went along with his father's jersey number were too great.[3] When he found himself playing for Tikhonov with the Central Red Army club in 1992, the decision was taken away from him, and he was issued the #17 jersey. After initially being reluctant, Alexander said "Now I am used to it. I felt an additional burden on my shoulders. But now I don't feel anything like that."[3] The #17 is not worn by any member of the Russian national team at senior international competitions.[14] Ilya Kovalchuk who usually wears #17 in honour of Kharlamov, his father's favorite player,[15] dons the reverse #71 for international play.

In his memory, the National Hockey League annually awards the Kharlamov Trophy to the best Russian-born player in the NHL. This award was first presented in 2002, and the winner is selected by the Russian players in the league.[16] The annual winner of the playoffs in Russia's Junior Hockey League is awarded the Kharlamov Cup. The trophy features a figure modeled after Kharlamov at the top.[17] One of the divisions in the Eastern Conference of the Kontinental Hockey League is named in his honor as well.[18] In 2013, director Nikolay Lebedev released the biopic "Legend No 17", with Danila Kozlovsky portraying Kharlamov for most of the film.[14] "Legend No 17" was nominated for 11 Golden Eagle Awards in 2013, and captured 6 of them, including Best Screenplay.[19] The movie has been described as a personal favorite of Vladimir Putin.[20]

Kharlamov was posthumously inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame in 1998.[5] The Milestone Award is given by the IIHF Hall of Fame to teams that have made significant contributions to international hockey. In 2012, Kharlamov's 1972 Summit Series Soviet Union team was given this honor.[21] To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the IIHF in 2008, a panel of experts named Kharlamov to the Centennial All-Star Team, along with 3 other Soviet stars, Vladislav Tretiak, Viacheslav Fetisov and Sergei Makarov.[22] Kharlamov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.[6] His induction was met with praise from one of the players who idolized him, Ilya Kovalchuk, who said "He should have been there many years ago. I think he was one of the best players in the world."[10] Kharlamov was the second Soviet trained player, after Tretiak, to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Upon hearing the news of his father's induction, Alexander Kharlamov said "I want to say thank you for remembering my father."[6] In 2014, Kharlamov was part of the inaugural class inducted into the Russian Hockey Hall of Fame.[23]

Playing style[edit]

Kharlamov was a gifted offensive player. During his prime, he was one of the dominant players in Soviet hockey, and he maintained this reputation during international tournaments. Kharlamov loved the creative opportunities his sport provided saying "I like to score beautiful goals."[24] Some compared Kharlamov's play to Wayne Gretzky, in the sense that their overall play was greater than their individual skills, such as skating or shooting would indicate.[10] He was very popular with his fans and teammates.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Kharlamov was married, to Irina, and they had two children, a son, Alexander, commonly known as "Sasha" and a daughter, Bugonita. Valeri married Irina in 1975, after Alexander was born. He was unaware he had a son, until he received a phone call from Irina telling him he was the baby's father.[3] After their parents death, the children went to live with their maternal grandmother in Moscow.[3][10] Alexander was only five years old when his father died, and does not really remember him, although he has seen recordings of his games.[10] Alexander's son is named Valeri, after his grandfather, although his sport of choice is soccer, rather than hockey.[10]

Career statistics[edit]

Soviet League[edit]

Regular season
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1967–68 CSKA Moscow Soviet 15 2 3 5 6
1968–69 CSKA Moscow Soviet 42 37 12 49 24
1969–70 CSKA Moscow Soviet 33 33 10 43 16
1970–71 CSKA Moscow Soviet 34 40 12 52 18
1971–72 CSKA Moscow Soviet 31 24 16 40 22
1972–73 CSKA Moscow Soviet 27 19 13 32 22
1973–74 CSKA Moscow Soviet 26 20 10 30 28
1974–75 CSKA Moscow Soviet 31 15 24 39 35
1975–76 CSKA Moscow Soviet 34 18 18 36 6
1976–77 CSKA Moscow Soviet 21 18 8 26 16
1977–78 CSKA Moscow Soviet 29 18 24 42 35
1978–79 CSKA Moscow Soviet 41 22 26 48 36
1979–80 CSKA Moscow Soviet 41 16 22 38 40
1980–81 CSKA Moscow Soviet 30 9 16 25 14
Soviet totals 438 293 214 507 318

International play[edit]

Regular season
Season Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
1969 Soviet Union WC 10 6 7 13 4
1970 Soviet Union WC 9 7 3 10 4
1971 Soviet Union WC 10 5 12 17 2
1972 Soviet Union SS 7 3 4 7 16
1972 Soviet Union OG 5 9 7 16 2
1972 Soviet Union WC 9 8 6 14 10
1973 Soviet Union WC 10 9 14 23 31
1974 Soviet Union SS 8 2 6 8 4
1974 Soviet Union WC 10 5 5 10 8
1975 Soviet Union WC 9 10 6 16 4
1976 Soviet Union OG 6 3 6 9 6
1976 Soviet Union WC 10 4 10 14 4
1977 Soviet Union WC 10 9 7 16 4
1978 Soviet Union WC 10 4 5 9 4
1979 Soviet Union WC 8 7 7 14 4
1980 Soviet Union OG 7 3 8 11 2
World Championship Totals 105 74 82 156 79
Olympic Totals 18 15 21 36 10

Awards and honours[edit]

Soviet Union and Russia[edit]

Award Year
Merited Master of Sport 1969[6]
Soviet League Player of the Year 1971–72[5]
1972–73[5]
Russian Hockey Hall of Fame 2014[23]

International[edit]

Award Year
World Ice Hockey Championships All-Star Team 1972[8]
1973[8]
1976[8]
IIHF Hall of Fame 1998[5]
IIHF Centennial All-Star Team 2008[22]
Hockey Hall of Fame 2005[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Mosko, Alexey (2013-05-11). "Film brings Soviet hockey legend to life". Russia: Beyond the Headlines. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  2. ^ "Ice Hockey legend Valery Kharlamov remembered in Moscow exhibition match". RT. 2013-02-19. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Staples, David (1995-04). "Sasha and 17". Saturday Night 110. pp. 65–67. 
  4. ^ Joyce, Gare (2010). When the Lights Went Out. Random House. p. 83. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m "Valeri Kharlamov". Elite Prospects. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h "Kharlamov, Valeri -- Biography". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  7. ^ Milles, Ed (2011). The Rebel League: The Short and Unruly Life of the World Hockey Association. Random House. p. 25. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Podnieks, Andrew (ed.). 2014 IIHF Guide and Record Book. Toronto: Fenn / McClelland Stewart. p. 467. 
  9. ^ Podnieks, Andrew (ed.). 2014 IIHF Guide and Record Book. Toronto: Fenn / McClelland Stewart. p. 21. 
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i Burnside, Scott (2005-11-05). "Kharlamov's life one of talent and tragedy". ESPN. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 
  11. ^ a b c Shea, Kevin. "Spotlight - Pinnacle". Hockey Hall of Fame and Museum. Retrieved 2014-01-23. 
  12. ^ Fisher, Red (2012-09-24). "Summit Series 40th anniversary: Clarke’s Game 6 slash on Kharlamov was turning point for Team Canada". The Montreal Gazette. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  13. ^ Gibbons, Denis (2012-09-21). "Summit Series: Nine members of great Soviet team no longer with us". The Toronto Star. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  14. ^ a b Teh, Yvonne (2013-06-13). "Art House: ice hockey star Kharlamov is the stuff of 'Legend'". 48 Hours. South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  15. ^ Chere, Rich (2010-07-20). "For Devils left winger Ilya Kovalchuk, there is significance to #17". The Star Ledger. NJ.com. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  16. ^ Chesnokov, Dmitry (2012-06-09). "Evgeni Malkin wins Kharlamov Trophy for Best Russian Player in the NHL". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  17. ^ "Championship Winner Cup". Minor Hockey League. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  18. ^ "Kontinental Hockey League". Kontinental Hockey League. Retrieved 2014-01-29. 
  19. ^ Kozlov, Vladimir (2014-01-31). "'Legend No. 17' Wins Golden Eagle as the Best Russian Movie". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  20. ^ Holdsworth, Nick (2014-02-04). "'Vampire Academy's' Danila Kozlovsky on Being a Russian in Hollywood: Cold War Is 'Still With Us' (Q&A)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  21. ^ Podnieks, Andrew (ed.). 2014 IIHF Guide and Record Book. Toronto: Fenn / McClelland Stewart. p. 8. 
  22. ^ a b "Gretzky named to IIHF's centennial all-star team; Miracle on Ice top story". The Hockey News. 2008-05-17. Retrieved 2014-02-07. 
  23. ^ a b Podnieks, Andrew (2014-02-18). "Russians establish Hall of Fame". International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 2014-02-18. 
  24. ^ "Valery Kharlamov - One of the Greatest Players of All Time". The Voice of Russia. 2008-07-02. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Anatoli Firsov
Soviet MVP
1972, 1973
Succeeded by
Vladislav Tretiak
Preceded by
Alexander Maltsev
Soviet Scoring Champion
1972
Succeeded by
Vladimir Petrov