Fetisov about Tarasov and Worlds in Russia
The conversation took place after the final game of the first season of the World Legends Hockey League where Russia defeated the Czech Republic 8-5. 57-year-old defenceman Vyacheslav Fetisov notched five points (0+5) in his two games including the semi-final win over Finland, 6-2. His assists were that great that it was difficult not to score for his teammates.
“It is a very important tournament for the guys who have turned the page over hockey but can compete once more after some time,” said Fetisov. “Exhibition games and charity games are one thing, but the tournament for real men is something else. We need to train, to get ready and remember everything we know. Especially when 10,000 fans come to see you play.”
You never played with Pavel Bure but now all the goals scored by the Russian Rocket were prepared by Fetisov. It was like you could see him from behind.
Not many players have grown up with CSKA Moscow from the pot like Bure and I. You cannot get away from genetics. We are surprised ourselves. Before going out on the ice we exchanged a few words and everything turns out great.
Once we were playing in Khodynka [now called Megasport Arena, venue of the 2007 Worlds]. Pasha [Bure] had not been skating for a long time. And suddenly, from behind the net, I passed along the far blue line. I didn’t even know why I decided to do so. I saw the Russian Rocket flying, so the puck needs to be passed there. Bure popped up on the goalkeeper and shoots. It was really beautiful! He ran to the bench: “Uncle, I have not received such assists for a long time!” I replied: “Pasha, can you imagine, I saw it without my glasses!”
Jaromir Jagr still plays with the Florida Panthers. He will be 44 in February. Alexei Kovalyov says that he is ready to go back to the NHL at 43. Which veteran of the Russian team could play at a high level?
Sergei Fyodorov and Pavel Bure could play 10 more years. But apart from physical strength, an inner force is required. I played until 40, though each season was getting more difficult. Hats off for guys like Jaromir Jagr. I believe that Alex Kovalyov could also come back. I saw him not long ago in New York. He is in great form. By the way, Igor Larionov is also in full shape. He could participate in the KHL even now being 55. The most important in hockey is the brain and not only the legs.
Tell us about the role of Anatoli Tarasov in your career.
Sometimes people argue in Russia about who is the best, Arkadi Chernyshev or Anatoli Tarasov. Two coaches with whom the USSR won nine consecutive World Championships (1963-1971). I tell you my own opinion. I have nothing to invent. Tarasov created the CSKA hockey school. I grew up in it just like Pasha Bure. In the late ‘60s, as the coach of CSKA and the USSR national team, Tarasov came to meetings in the children sports schools and spoke for about two hours with the little guys. Many generations grew with his books. He is a life guide. I have not met Tarasov that often. I trained at his farm house when I was suspended from the CSKA – it is depicted in the film “Red Army”. He gave me a lot as a founding father.
One day he arrived at the World Junior Championship in 1978 in Quebec for the final round of the game with Canada. And Tarasov went down to the locker room during the intermission. He was wearing an Olympic coat, removed his fur hat, put the hands at his sides and began to sing the national anthem of the Soviet Union. After that we beat Gretzky and his team (3-2), and won the final game against Sweden (5-2).
The greatness of any coach is defined by his human qualities. Only then will the guys fight for him on the ice. Tarasov was thrown out of hockey at the age of 55. But he did not become embittered. He started working with boys in the All-Union tournament “Golden Puck”. He has brought up many coaches. He lived for hockey and died for hockey. He cannot be compared to anyone. There will never be such a great person.
What are the chances of the Russian team to win gold at the World Championship? And also to win the World Cup of Hockey, which is not so much discussed about in the country?
Maybe it is a tactic? Don’t say anything, come and win the World Cup? Tradition is a great thing. The last World Championship on the home ice we won was in 1986. We were playing in at Luzhniki, it was our home of hockey. Now we have moved to the new Ice Palace at the Legends Park where the World Championship will be held. Now it’s our home. It is a good sign.
I remember 1978 and 1979, also 1981, 1982, 1983. Then not only I but the whole USSR team played well. We only took gold. It is what I remember the most. We always wanted to be champions.
It was recently the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Russian Five at the Detroit Red Wings. How is Vladimir Konstantinov doing, who was involved in a severe car crash in 1997?
Vladdy is still the same as when we won the Stanley Cup for the last time. Unfortunately, there is no improvement. I would also want to add that our team – the Russian legends of hockey – has transferred 500,000 rubles [$6,500] for the treatment of our comrade and brother, coach Fyodor Kanareikin. I came up to the microphone and said: “We never give up on our own.” Our family is big, many great veterans. But we have always tried to support each other. This is what we call the hockey family.
Do you think the NHL will let its players go to the Olympic Games in 2018?
It has to! It is a hockey festival for the whole world.
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