Wings legend Igor Larionov to be inducted to Hockey Hall of Fame
The Hockey Hall of Fame class of 2008 will include the Professor.
After being the odd man out on a sterling 2007 class that included Ron Francis, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier and Scott Stevens, former Red Wing Igor Larionov received the nod Tuesday.
Joining Larionov in the player category for induction is Glenn Anderson, who won five Stanley Cup titles with the Edmonton Oilers and a sixth with the New York Rangers in 1994. Former Western Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League president Ed Chynoweth, who died in April, and Ray Scapinello, an NHL linesman for 33 years, round out the 2008 class, which will be inducted Nov. 10 in Toronto.
Among the players who did receive enough votes to remain up for induction next year were former Wings Adam Oates and Dino Ciccarelli, plus Pavel Bure, Doug Gilmour and Phil Housley.
Larionov, who was known as the Professor, participated in a conference call Tuesday and was elated by the news. He said he found out he was voted in before going for a swim, part of his daily workout routine.
"This is very exciting news," said Larionov, 47. "I can't really put into words or to describe what this honor means to me."
He didn't mind waiting a year to get in because of last year's star-studded class.
"I have no regrets. I have no disappointments," he said. "All those guys, I played against them. I was so privileged to be included" for consideration last year.
Larionov, one of the game's greatest passers, already was recognized as one of the top hockey players in the world when he made his NHL debut with the Vancouver Canucks in 1989 at age 28. He helped break down the barrier that prevented Russians from playing in the NHL by speaking out against his former coach, Viktor Tikhonov.
His greatest accomplishments in the NHL came during his time with the Red Wings, who acquired Larionov in an October 1995 trade for Ray Sheppard. Scotty Bowman put Larionov on the ice with wingers Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov and defensemen Vladimir Konstantinov and Slava Fetisov to create the Russian Five unit.
Larionov remembered well the 7 a.m. phone call he got from Bowman, telling him he'd been traded to the Wings. Bowman, inducted into the Hall in 1991, was part of the committee that voted on this year's class.
"I was really, really kind of surprised," Larionov said of the trade that brought him to the Wings. "I had a really tough time in San Jose with management and then I got traded to Detroit, and Scotty Bowman wanted to put me in the middle of Sergei Fedorov and Slava Kozlov, and Slava Fetisov and Vladdie in the back.
"That phone call make a huge difference because finally you have a chance to play for a team really looking forward to the Stanley Cup. And to play the style I was taught to play in Russia, puck-control, possession game and the creativity and most important to have a coach and organization driving to (win) Stanley Cups."
Larionov helped the Wings win Stanley Cups in 1997, '98 and 2002.
He said playing for the Wings reminded him of his best memories of playing in Russia.
"That was success," he said. "That was fun. That was unbelievable support from the fans and coaches and all the staff that was putting the team together."
Larionov and Fetisov were part of another famed Russian grouping in the early 1980s, with wingers Vladimir Krotov and Sergei Makarov and defenseman Alexei Kasatonov.
Larionov was a four-time Russian first-team All-Star, a two-time world championship All-Star and the 1988 Russian player of the year. He helped the Russians win the 1981 Canada Cup and was a key contributor on Russia's gold-medal winning Olympic teams in 1984 and '88.
He scored 169 goals, 475 assists and 644 points in 921 NHL games, playing for the Canucks, Sharks, Wings, Panthers and Devils.
"I'm happy for Igor," said Red Wings general manager Ken Holland. "There's no doubt he's a Hall of Fame player. Everything he's done, you can take his whole career -- one of the first players to leave communist Russia, the Russian Five, he's done a lot of things to revolutionize our game."
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