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Rambler's Top100


2001 год.

4 января. Larionov best candidate for Wings' top job if Scotty leaves.

By Joe Falls / The Detroit News
DETROIT  -- If Scotty Bowman quits as coach of the Red Wings at the end of the season, I can see his successor already.
Igor Larionov.
Now think about it for a moment. Think of the stimulus it would give this team, as well as the entire organization, to have such a man running the show.
Foremost, he would be the first Russian head coach in the National Hockey League. That only would add spice to an aging team that is going to need a lift in the coming season.
Who knows more about the game of hockey and how it should be played than this man?
Larionov has been on the world stage for 23 years, excelling at the highest levels of competition on two continents.
He exudes nothing but class and is held in high esteem by every player on the team. They like the guy and respect his knowledge and efforts over his long and distinguished career.
He is 40 years old and this will probably be his final season as a player, although the Wings hold an option on his services for next season. If Bowman, 67, moves out if the Red Wings again fall short in the playoffs, it would be the logical time for Larionov to move in.
You say, "A Russian coaching our team?"
That seems like a very large step, but not with this man. He may be the most Americanized Russian in the league. He knows our language and our culture and has been comfortable in our society ever since moving to North America 12 years ago. So you can put that concern aside.
I've seen him in the Red Wings dressing room and there is no question that he fits in. In fact, I've known times when things are going poorly for the team and the players would hide in the back room, but here would be Larionov walking into the midst of the media mob and answering intelligently all the questions the others did not want to face. That's an important consideration for a team that might not stay at the top of the heap.
So, he has this part down pat, and never underestimate the value of good public relations. Bowman never mastered this art but his ways were accepted because he won so much.
Larionov has an extremely agile mind. He can analyze situations quicker than anyone around him, and doesn't make a big deal of it. He is mentally sharp.
When he played for San Jose the year the lowly Sharks upset the Red Wings in the playoffs, he was the wise old veteran who spooked young Sergei Fedorov in their man-to-man combat. Larionov knew how to win. Fedorov knew how to skate and shoot but it was not enough against the wily Larionov.
After all, Larionov was the teacher and Fedorov the student back in Russia. Notice how Fedorov flourished when he had Larionov at his side.
In truth, Larionov has been a quiet coach on his own behalf by instilling confidence and intelligence in his teammates. He likes the money he earns and would accept the job were it offered him -- say, $1 million a year for three years.
If the Red Wings could win a Stanley Cup on the strength of five Russian players, it is not farfetched to believe they can be coached by one Russian ... especially one with the credentials of Igor Larionov.

10 февраля. Igor spreads his Wings

By AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun
DETROIT -- In their past 16 games, the Detroit Red Wings have a record of 11-3-1-1. 

In their past 15 games, the Wings have had Igor Larionov in the lineup. 

Coincidence? Not really. The diminutive Larionov, at 40 the oldest skater in the National Hockey League, is a player's player. 

Many of the things he does go unnoticed by the casual fan. But the players, who live and breathe the game, are in awe of his contributions. 

Fortunately for the Wings, not every coach holds Larionov in such esteem. 

Twice now he has wound up in Detroit because he got sick of being shackled by a coach. 

The first time, it was Kevin Constantine in San Jose. 

Constantine wanted to impose one of those skill-killing, sleep-inducing systems that is so popular among coaches. It was bad enough he had the players doing it on the ice, but when he inisted they watch films to improve their efficiency, it was too much for Larionov. 

He asked to be excused to go to bathroom and kept walking. He simply never came back. So the Sharks traded him. 

Then, last December, he was playing for the now-departed Terry Murray in Florida. 

Larionov, who had theoretically been acquired in the summer to set up Pavel Bure and be the defensive conscience on that line, was supplanted by Peter Worrell, of all people, after two games. 

Larionov suffered in silence for a while but finally, Murray pushed him too far. 

Murray was running a practice drill that required the puck to be dumped in the corner on a three-on-two break. 

"That's no way to play hockey," Larionov said. 

"That's our system here and that's the way I want you to play," Murray said. 

"I've been playing hockey for 25 years," said Larionov, much to the amusement of his teammates, "and I will not dump the puck in the corner on a three-on-two." 

"Yes you will," Murray said. 

"I will not," Larionov said. 

Two games after that incident, he was shipped back to the Wings. And Larionov is happy to be there. Detroit coach Scott Bowman has his eccentricities, but he does let his players use their skills. 

When Larionov arrived, there was a good deal of speculation as to who his linemates might be. But no one predicted the course of action Bowman would take. 

Putting Slava Kozlov on Larionov's left wing was fine. But then he moved centre Steve Yzerman to the right wing. 

"Surprised?" laughed Larionov. "How can I be surprised? I've known Scotty for five years now and he changes the lines all the time, so nothing he does is a surprise to me." 

That line lasted a few games but, these days, it seems nothing short of a pitchfork is likely to get Kozlov going. 

So Yzerman got moved to the left wing and Martin Lapointe took over the right side. 

At the moment, they form the Wings' most dangerous line. The Maple Leafs shut it down on Thursday, but Toronto will have to be every bit as vigilant if they hope to do it again and get a series split in tonight's rematch at the Air Canada Centre. 

"That line has been tremendous," Wings assistant coach Dave Lewis said. "They played a great game against Ottawa (on Tuesday). Igor made a great pass to Stevie and Marty created the open ice. Igor just bought time and waited for Stevie to get to the net and he got a tap-in." 

What the Wings have in that unit is a genuine two-way line. You can send it out with equal confidence whether you want to score a goal or prevent one. 


"Everybody gives Igor so much credit for being so good offensively," said Lewis, "but he's probably better defensively. 

"He might lose a battle because of size or strength, but he'll never lose a battle because of position. He might get knocked around a bit, but he's there and he knows what to do with the puck. He's so clever." 

"I just have to adjust my game to who I play with," Larionov said. "Sometimes, Stevie wants to go even though our system requires the left-wing lock, so I have to back him up. I have to read that situation and give him the freedom to create while I take over his defensive responsibilities. That's my game." 

It is a game that requires not only skill, but diversity and intelligence. It also is one few people in the league can play. 

But Igor Larionov can do it -- if his coaches let him. 

16 апреля. Larionov plays key role for Wings // Detroit Free Press

With Yzerman out, he scores a point a game 

April 16, 2001 

LOS ANGELES -- Who knew the Red Wings' fortunes would lie with a professorial 40-year-old center? 

Igor Larionov's importance has doubled in the wake of the Wings' losing Steve Yzerman early in their first-round series against the Kings. But the truth is, without him, they probably wouldn't even be playing L.A. 

Since the Wings reacquired Larionov in late December, the team lost only seven times in regulation in the final 43 games. That works out to one loss roughly every six games; before his return, the team lost every third game and seemed relegated to placing no better than fourth in the Western Conference. 

His playoff numbers are also good -- one point in each of the three games and two victories. 

"Some nights, you don't even notice all the little things he does," teammate Brent Gilchrist said, "but there's no question he can really control the game. He hangs onto the puck and lets people jump into the open, and he'll find them there." 

Larionov found the net himself in Game 1, and threaded the puck to linemate Slava Kozlov for a one-timer in Game 2. As the Wings face continuing the playoffs without Yzerman, out indefinitely with what coach Scotty Bowman has said is a sprained left ankle, Larionov's presence is close to inestimable. 

"In a situation like this you look for character," associate coach Dave Lewis said. "You look for guys that have experience in big games, you look for, I guess, composure at times you want composure. Nobody's experienced much more than Igor Larionov in his hockey career." 

That experience includes time spent in hockey purgatory at the start of this season, albeit a self-induced stint. A sour stretch of contract negotiations last season ended when Larionov jilted the Wings and signed as a free agent with Florida on July 1. Neither side benefited. 

Larionov suffocated under Florida's style of play; the Wings sputtered to score goals as their depth up the middle was depleted by Larionov's departure and knee surgery that sidelined Yzerman until Dec. 2. 

The disaster ended when Larionov waived his no-trade clause and was reunited with his old teammates. Asked Saturday how delighted he was to have made that move, Larionov grinned, then winked. Who needs words to express relief and happiness? 
Larionov is making a strong case for extending his career. His contract included a club option for a second year at $2 million. Though he'll be 41 in December, he has shown no inclination to retire. 

"He's got a lot of hockey left in him," general manager Ken Holland said, adding that any contract decisions wouldn't be made until after the playoffs. "I think that when we lost last year, everybody wanted to look at birth certificates, and Igor's 40 years old. But that's not the way to judge players; I judge them by how they play, how they contribute. Ever since we got Igor back, he's been a big-time contributor. Some people have the gift that when they get their hands on the puck, they create a scoring chance. Igor has that gift. 

"He's so smart that speed isn't really an issue -- he thinks the game so well. He knows how to angle and create space, and when he has the puck under pressure he doesn't panic. He could stick-handle in a phone booth."

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