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Rambler's Top100


February 24, 1999
When Igor Larionov speaks, Slava Kozlov listens.

BY HELENE ST. JAMES Free Press Sports Writer

Before the Red Wings' Feb. 1 game in New Jersey, Larionov pushed Kozlov to produce far better than the 21 points he had accumulated through the first 45 games of the season. He told Kozlov he was too talented a sniper not to have more than 11 goals. 

"I told him, 'Every game you have to have a goal of getting two points,'" Larionov said. "So if he gets one goal in a game, it's like B-minus. He's got so much skill, so much power in skating ability, he has to score more."

Kozlov scored both goals that night against New Jersey and has scored four more since then, part of the 13 points he has amassed in the 11 games this month. His line with Larionov and Martin Lapointe has been the hottest one of the month for the Wings, and no two linemates have produced more than the 25 points provided by Larionov and Kozlov.

"I have confidence now, and Igor helped me find it by giving me good advice," Kozlov said. "He has a lot of experience, he has been in a lot of situations in his career -- when he played in Russia and here."

The two have forged a deep friendship since Larionov came to the Wings in October of 1995, becoming the last piece of what would eventually be known as the Russian Five unit. Larionov and Kozlov, 12 years apart in age, both hail from Voskresensk, Russia, and Kozlov grew up worshipping Larionov during the days he centered the feared KLM line with Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov.

"I couldn't believe it when Scotty Bowman traded for Igor," Kozlov said. "I had dreamed of playing with him, because when he played with Krutov and Makarov line, that was great, great line. I couldn't believe it when we started playing together."

Larionov has reassured Kozlov when Bowman cracked down on him for shoddy defensive play and has encouraged Kozlov during goal droughts. And lately he has sacrificed for him, taking over the left wing lock duties that restricted Kozlov's ability to jump into plays. Acting as a third defenseman is second nature to Larionov, who grew up in a Soviet hockey system in which the center was required to stay back.

"It's kind of hard (for Slava) to use his talent there, so I don't mind taking the spot," Larionov said. "I told him, 'You should shoot the puck and take chances against the defense.' "

As always when Larionov speaks, Kozlov was listening.

Март 1999.  Игорь Ларионов один из самых возрастных хоккеистов НХЛ, но по его игре этого не скажешь. "Я думаю, что ему 31 или 32," - сказал помощник старшего тренера Дэйв Лювис. "Наверняка он соврал про свой возраст в свидетельстве о рождения. Он изумительный человек." 
"Так, как он выглядит сейчас, он легко может играть в лиге ещё лет 5," - сказал Вячеслав Фетисов. "Он находится в изумительной форме и его профессионализм всегда при нём. Он по-прежнему может играть так, как делал это 20 лет назад."

Страничка Игоря Ларионова на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


"ЗВЁЗДЫ С ВОСТОКА" @ c 1997 года