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|29 января 2004
Devils: Larionov expecting an emotional finale in Detroit - Star-Ledger
BY RICH CHERE
DETROIT -- Igor Larionov still remembers the reaction from those in his hometown of Voskresensk in the former Soviet Union when he left to join the mighty Red Army in 1981.
Unhappy to see the star center leave, many in the town of 80,000 voiced their feelings.
"Everybody called me a traitor," Larionov recalled yesterday. "But I was 20 years old and they knew I had to develop. They (the Red Army) had been coming after me for three years and I said no at 17, 18, 19. I had to take the next step to improve as a player."
Larionov, who went on to center the famed KLM Line with wingers Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov, does not expect a similar reaction from Red Wings fans tonight when he returns to Joe Louis Arena for the first time since signing with the Devils as a free agent last September.
"Obviously, some people could feel that way, but I've been loyal to this team," he said of the Red Wings, with whom he won three Stanley Cups. "I'm not looking for a standing ovation. The reception, hopefully, will be nice and warm.
"I played eight seasons here and had great success. That's what I'm hoping for. I was thinking (Tuesday night) that I played eight seasons with Detroit and eight seasons with the Red Army and national team. I won two gold medals and three Stanley Cups. I was fortunate to play with great players both places. I can go back to '81 and I played with (Vladislav) Tretiak."
Devils coach Pat Burns joked that he planned to scratch Larionov for what will be the 43-year-old veteran's final game in Detroit unless the Devils and Red Wings meet in the Stanley Cup Finals.
Detroit fans wouldn't get the joke and Burns believes Larionov will be playing with a little extra fire.
"Deep down, at least with a coach, there is always something inside when you return to a city the following year," Burns said. "I'm sure it's the same with players."
Larionov, who will have his own wine label called IL Triple Overtime, produced by a winery in Dearborn, Mich., and offered March 9, met with associates yesterday morning and then showed up at the arena three hours before the Devils' workout so he could chat with former teammates.
Fifteen Red Wings and five Devils will take part in his retirement game, tentatively scheduled for December in Moscow. If there is no NHL lockout, Larionov will have to reschedule.
He has announced that this will be his final NHL season and tonight's game will be his most emotional farewell.
"Every time you step on the ice you're nervous," Larionov said. "This will be the last time in my career here. I remember taking the Stanley Cup around the rink and the 20,000 people here every night those eight years. It's going to be emotional."
28 января 2004 года.
BY RICH CHERE
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Igor Larionov, who returns to Detroit when the Devils face the Red Wings tomorrow night at Joe Louis Arena, was hesitant to reveal why he left the Motor City to sign with the Devils.
"I don't want to say right now," Larionov said last night. "I don't have any hard feelings. It happens. That side of hockey is business."
Larionov has been interviewed by members of the Detroit media all week in anticipation of his homecoming.
"I'm excited. Very excited," he said. "I'm looking forward to saying goodbye to the fans and it will be nice to see some teammates. But I don't have mixed feelings. How can I have mixed feelings after so much success in Detroit?
"I'd rather not get into why I left. I decided I'm looking forward."
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