HHOF Profile: Sergei Fedorov

Sergei Fedorov #91The NHL is an international league with players from all over the world but it was not always that way.

During the years of the Cold War one of the greatest hockey countries in the world wouldn’t allow some of the greatest hockey players to play for the NHL.

The USSR was a hockey factory that gave talented hockey players the chance to play hockey full-time as a part of the massive propaganda campaign launched by the communist country.

The idea was to show the Western world that the USSR, and therefore communism, was a great way to live as shown by how successful they could be in things like sports.

The “Red Army” was a successful part of the campaign as full-time players and unique training made them one of the best hockey nations in the world, alongside Canada.

The problem was that these amazing players were not allowed to leave the country unless as a part of an international hockey tournament and under supervision, a practice often used in communist countries like the USSR and Cuba.

That restriction didn’t stop NHL teams from finding great players from the region but getting them to the NHL was a little tougher.

In the early 1990s the USSR was beginning to fall apart and the NHL looked to take advantage beginning to draft and sign Russian talent before it became an open bidding war.

Sergei Fedorov was a part of this new Russian wave when he was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in 1989.

His experience was similar to so many at the time as he had been drafted but wasn’t allowed to leave his country to play for the team who drafted him.

That didn’t keep him from trying though as he travelled to Seattle for the Goodwill Games with his club team, CSKA Moscow, and snuck away and defected to the USA in order to play for Detroit.

The move to draft Fedorov was a risky one as there was never a guarantee that he was going to play in the NHL and if he didn’t the Red Wings wasted a pick.

With Fedorov defecting the Red Wings’ bet paid off in a big way as it was clear that their draft pick was going to be something special.Fedorov-Image-61

From the point he entered the league he showed what a Russian player can do and became a mold to which many Russian players fit their game.

Russians have not necessarily been known for their toughness or grittiness on the ice but instead their pure skill and speed.

That is what Fedorov brought to the game long before that was something that every team wanted in a forward.

He was fast and had an amazing scoring touch constantly scoring over 20 goals in every season but that wasn’t all he had.

He was also a strong defender and despite the fact that Fedorov never really went into the corners he was responsible enough to be considered one of the best defensive forwards in the game.

With such skill Fedorov quickly became a massive part of the dominant Red Wings fo the 1990s and became the key member of the Russian Five.

That was a line that included Fedorov, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Igor Larionov, Slava Fetisov, and Vladimir Konstantinov.

That group was a big reason for the Red wings winning back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 1992 and 1993 and was an eye-opener for teams around the league.

He ended his career as the best Russian-born player in NHL history with the most goals by any Russian in NHL history.

It is interesting that in 2015 Fedorov gets his chance to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame as this season also marks the end of his Russian scoring record.

Alexander Ovechkin will pass Fedorov’s 483 goals with his next goal this year as the new generation passes the generation that paved the way.

Fedorov was one of the best of a generation that had to go through a lot more than today just to play in the biggest league in the world.

It is fitting that he will enter the hall when the new generation takes over as Fedorov paved the way for a new generation that now count among the best NHL players in the world and for that he truly is a legend deserving of a plaque in Toronto.


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