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Fetisov proudly enters Hall of Fame // Canadian Press
For a man who has won two Olympic gold medals, seven world championship gold medals and two Stanley Cups, ranking his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame as one of his greatest achievements is quite a statement.
But for Viacheslav Fetisov, 43, it's the culmination of an amazing career that spanned 14 years in the former Soviet Union and another nine in the NHL after crossing the Atlantic in 1989 at the age of 31.
``I am so proud to be elected,'' said Fetisov, who will officially join the Hall in Toronto on Monday along with fellow 2001 inductees Dale Hawerchuk, Jari Kurri, Mike Gartner and Craig Patrick.
Growing up in Moscow, Fetisov says he knew little of the Hockey of Hall Fame. He dreamt of winning gold medals for the Soviet Union and one day being honoured as one of their great players.
He achieved both of those goals and more. And now after playing in the NHL from 1989 to 98 with New Jersey and Detroit, Fetisov has grown to appreciate the importance of the Hall of Fame in Toronto.
``I've learned a lot about Gordie Howe, Ted Lindsay and Maurice Richard,'' Fetisov shared on a conference call from New Jersey on Thursday. ``To be in the same category and mentioned with them is a great, great, great achievement for me and a great honour.''
He also jokingly pointed out the irony of the Hall's location.
``Don't forget that Toronto was a prohibited area for us,'' he said.
``The owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn't allow (Russian) players
to skate on the ice.''
Fetisov relishes the memories of the dominating Big Red Machine of the 1970's and 80s.
``Don't forget every national team, Czechs, Swedes, Finns, tried to
create defensive systems to stop us and it was fun to break all these systems,''
And of course, just like a red-blooded Canadian, there was the Stanley Cup.
``I'll remember my first Stanley Cup forever because it took so long to get there,'' he said. ``And then the car accident ...''
Fetisov was in a limo with fellow Wings teammate and Russian defenceman
Vladimir Konstantinov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov that crashed
following a Red Wings party celebrating the '97 Cup. Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov
suffered disabling head injuries while Fetisov was also hurt but not nearly
Fetisov, now an assistant coach with the Devils and also the coach and
GM for Russia's Olympic team, won't forget how it all started with Red
``We had no life beside hockey,'' he said.
He recalled with mixed emotions the struggles of his Soviet existence.
``It was scary, trust me. It was the most powerful, dominant system
in the world. They didn't allow people to think freely. They wanted to
But at the same time, he says, he'll enter the Hall on Monday proud
of being only the second Russian inducted after goaltender great Vladislav
Страничка Вячеслава Фетисова
на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"