Most important day in Fyodorov's life
Last year was certainly one to remember for the legendary forward and now General Manager of CSKA Moscow, Sergei Fyodorov.
- His club won the KHL regular championship and took the gold medals for the Russian champion
- He signed a new contract with CSKA Moscow
- Fyodorov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto
- Now the IIHF Hall of Fame awaits
Things could not have gone better.
It started on 5 August 2014. CSKA had come off the back of a less than successful season and fired head coach John Torchetti. Dmitri Kvartalnov took his place and flew with CSKA on a training camp to Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland. The city also happens to be the official hometown of Santa Claus, even in the middle of summer.
Sergei Fyodorov wrote to him a thoughtful letter: “Dear Santa! I would like to ask you for a few things, if it is possible. Please make sure that during the next hockey season, CSKA will not suffer a lot of injuries! I wish you the best of health and best of luck in your tough job.”
Now Fyodorov just laughs: “If you look back at a few lines from that letter that I wrote, then yes, you could say that it brought us some luck.”
He is one of the greatest centres in the history of hockey. Up until the end of 2015, he was the leading Russian goal scorer in the history of the NHL with 483 goals, before Alexander Ovechkin eventually surpassed him.
Alexander the Great says himself that Fyodorov was the best line mate he has played with in his career. “I always looked at him as a role model, both on and off the ice.”
When Sergei Fyodorov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he told the waiting onlookers: “This is the most important moment of my life.”
That was certainly some statement. Fyodorov had won three Stanley Cups, three World Championship golds, two Olympic medals. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg.
Fyodorov is certainly not going back on his words, and now adds: “The IIHF Hall of Fame is just as important. We have two worlds – the old and new. When you are honoured on both sides of the Atlantic, this is an amazing privilege. This means that both people in America and in Europe remember how you played hockey. I can say for certain that 22nd May will also be the most important day in my life.”
What moment does Fyodorov consider the most important in IIHF competitions?
“I would say right at the beginning. I was playing for CSKA Moscow and I started to appear on the roster for the Soviet Union’s national team. I remember the World Championships – Stockholm in 1989 and Berne in 1990. We won gold on both occasions. This was amazing!”
Not everyone had seen the 19-year-old CSKA centre at that stage of his career. However, 25 years have passed. The Soviet Union is no more. And Sergei Fyodorov’s stunning pass to Ilya Kovalchuk to win the 2008 IIHF World Championship 5-4 in overtime in Quebec against Canada will live long in the memory.
The puck was sent along the blue line, but did not leave the offensive zone. Kovalchuk collected the pass and sent a wrist shot past the goaltender Cam Ward. For the first time in 15 years, Russia had won the World Championships.
“The puck may not have left the zone,” Fyodorov explains. “Everything was executed with exact precision. Players from our generation would not make these sorts of passes 50 per cent of the time, but every single time. Had the pass been intercepted, I would have been caught by the Canada player. He is still playing in Arizona – Shane Doan. I know how he plays. I managed to win the face-off against him 30 seconds earlier. I also know what Ilya Kovalchuk is capable of. He stopped the puck from going onto the blue line by about a centimetre. And then he produced a gold winning shot... When I think about this moment, I still get goose bumps.”
Fyodorov also recalls with a smile the 2010 World Championship final, when Russia unexpectedly lost 2-1 to the Czech Republic and was on the receiving end of a check... from Alexander Ovechkin. The powerful forward, who former Russian head coach Vyacheslav Bykov described as “a nuclear power station on ice”, accidently crashed into him from the side.
“My neck still hurts. But I was not angry at him. I didn’t have time,” he says with a smile.
Fyodorov, along with the board of other CSKA veterans, is in charge of the ceremony when the jersey of a legendary player is raised to the rafters. This season has been the turn of Pavel Bure and Alexander Mogilny to receive that honour.
These were his partners on the legendry line that Viktor Tikhonov managed to create. Sergei Fyodorov, Alexander Mogilny and Pavel Bure won the World Junior Championship together in 1989 in Anchorage in Alaska, USA.
On that occasion, the Soviet line managed to notch up 39 points. It was expected that Fyodorov and his teammates would spend many great years together. However, later in the spring, during the men’s World Championship, Mogilny left for America. A couple of years later, all three would be playing in the NHL.
When will Fyodorov raise his own jersey at CSKA’s Ice Palace? The fans may like the idea of seeing all three jerseys next to each other.
Fyodorov answers with a smile: “I am going to have to object. As a manager, I should show respect to all the great CSKA Moscow players. I want to let my idols go first. For example, Igor Larionov is not up there yet. How could I go in front of him?”
The Hall of Fame ceremony that also includes his fellow countryman Valeri Kamenski and other international legends will take place on 22 May and the new Hall of Fame of Russian Hockey next to the Ice Palace for the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will offer a fitting venue. It will be one of the main events in Moscow on that day. The only thing that could surpass this is if Russia manages to get into the final of the Worlds on home ice.
For Fyodorov the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be the highlight of the year despite the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.
“The World Championships and the Olympics are much more important for Europeans. This was certainly always the case for me,” he says.
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