Before I begin, I'm going to make a quick comment on giving Bettman the powers that David Stern has. I personally think its not needed since the worst trouble hockey players get into are bar fights. There's no strip club shootings, or dog fighting, or any other high crimes that have happened yet, and until that does happen, don't give Bettman the power Stern has. Minor intoxication charges are misdemeanors, not high crimes.
<h3>Retro-Buzz II: The Russian Five</h3>
This week we're going to talk about Russian hockey in the NHL. More specifically the Russian Five of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1990s. The talent and intrigue that each player brough to the team was a force to be reckoned with. They would all win the Stanley Cup in 1997 with Detroit.
Slava Fetisov is a very well respected defenseman in the hockey world as well as a very decorated one too! He won 2 gold medals, and one silver (1980) as the captain of the Russian Olympic Hockey team. He also has 10 medals collectively playing with Russia for the World Championships. Before comming to the NHL, Fetisov played 14 years for the Red Army in Moscow. In 1983, he was drafted by the New Jersey Devils 144th overall. In 1995 Fetisov moved to Detroit, where he would go on to win 2 Stanley Cups in 1997 and 1998. After the 1998 Stanley Cup run, Fetisov retired, and went on to Assistant Coach for the New Jersey Devils, who would go on to win a Stanley Cup in 2000. In 2002, Fetisov coached the Russian Olympic team to a bronze medal. Currently, Fetisov resides in Russia where he is the Minster of Sport. Fetisov was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001.
Igor Larianov was known as "The Professor" for his brilliant passing play. At 5' 9" 170 lbs, Larionov was a short forward, but his skill would make up for his size. He was one of the first players, along with Fetisov, from the Soviet Union to break into the NHL. Before comming over to North America, Larionov played for Khimik and Red Army in the Russian Super League. Originally Larionov was drafted in 1985, but Viktor Tikhonov used his communist ties to keep him in the USSR. In 1989, Larionov finally was allowed to go the NHL and wasx drafted by the Vancouver Canucks 214th overall. During the 1992-93 season Igor spent a year in the Swiss Nationalliga A. Larionov returned in the 1993 to the San Jose Sharks. In 1995, Larionov joined the Red Wings, and would end up winning the Stanley Cup 3 times with them. Larionov would move to Florida and New Jersey, before calling it quits in the NHL in 2004. Igor would go on to play one more season in Sweden, before hanging the skates up for good. Larionov's illustrious career also includes 2 gold, and 1 bronze medal in Olympic Hockey for Russia, as well as 6 medals during the World Championships. Currently, Igor Larionov is a professional wine merchant.
Slava Kozlov was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1990. It wasn't until 1993 when Kozlov was dressing full time as a Right Wing for the Red Wings. He would win the cup with Detroit in 1997 and 1998. In 2001, Kozlov was involved in a trade with the Sabres that put Dominik Hasek in Detroit. The next season Kozlov would move to the Atlanta, where he still plays currently. Earlier this month, Kozlov signed a 3-year $11 million deal with the Thrashers.
Fedorov is another player who is still playing in the NHL. Fedorov is one of many players who escaped Russia to play in the NHL. He is a quick and skilled scorer, and he can be a great defenseman too. Before comming to the NHL, Fedorov played for the Red Army with Alexander Mogilny and Pavel Bure. In 1989 Fedorov was drafted 74th overall by the Red Wings. During the 1993-94 season, Fedorov became the first European player to win the Hart Trophy, Selke Trophy, as well as the Lester A. Pearson Award. During that season Fedorov scored 56 goals, 120 points. In 1996, Fedorov would win the Selke trophy again. During the olympics in 1998 and 2002, Fedorov contributed for a silver and bronze medal respectively. He became the first European player to score 1000 points with Anaheim a few years ago. Currently, Fedorov is a center for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This defenseman was a big bruiser. His nickname, the "Vladinator" is fitting, because he could beat you physically as well as on the scoreboard. Like all of the players on this line, he is an alumni of the Red Army team. In 1989, Konstantinov was drafted to the Detroit Red Wings 221st overall. Konstantinov was the winner of the NHL's Plus/Minus Award for the 1995-1996 season. He would go on to assist the Red Wings in their Stanley Cup win 1997. However what people remember most is the tragedy that followed that season.
<b><i>The Limo Crash</i></b>
On June 13, 1997 Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Sergei Mnatsakanov decided to celebrate the Stanley Cup, by hiring a limo driver to drive them home, after a celebration with the team. Richard Gnida, the driver, had a suspended license, and crashed the limo into a tree. Fetisov was able to escape and only had minor injuries. Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov were howerver, not as lucky. Mnatsakanov was in a coma for awhile and has had a considerably difficult recovery. Konstantinov also was in a coma, but had a less difficult recovery. Gnida was convicted of driving with a suspended license. During the next season, all the Red Wings players wore a crest on their jerseys that said "Believe" in both Russian and English. When the Red Wings defended the Stanley Cup that season, Konstantinov joined the Red Wings on the ice during their celebration. He also did this in 2002. In 2007, he joined Steve Yzerman on the ice at the retirement ceremony of his jersey number. Currently, Konstantinov lives in Detroit where he is under constant nursing care.
<b><i>Final Thoughts about the Russian Five</i></b>
The Russian Five hails the end of an era in international hockey, especially the dominant Russian-style hockey. There was a time where the Soviet team would send 5 players out who could control the game in a dominant fashion. The Russian Five could do that well, because all of them had played for the Soviet teams at some point. Scotty Bowman, maybe the greatest coach ever to coach hockey, is credited of putting the line together. Not only is this the end of an era, but it is also the beginning of the Russian players comming to the NHL and begining an era of a global NHL.