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Igor Larionov #8
While Igor Larionov was drafted 214th overall in the 1985 Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, it was not until October 5, 1989 that he made his NHL debut after finally being given permission to leave the Soviet Union. He recorded his first assist two nights later against the Red Wings and scored his first goal on October 11 against the Oilers' Bill Ranford. At season's end, the 29-year old centre scored 44 points in 74 games. In 1990-91, Igor scored 34 points in just 64 games as the Canucks improved just one point in the standings to make the playoffs. In his first playoff season, Igor scored one goal in six games. In 1991-92, Igor scored 65 points in 72 games and pushed his team to a 31-point improvement to win the Smythe Division regular season title. Igor co-led the team with three shorthanded goals and finished second with 44 assists. In 13 playoff games, he scored 10 points.
Igor then stepped away from the NHL and returned one season later with the San Jose Sharks in 1993-94. (He had been claimed in the Waiver Draft on October 4, 1992). Reunited with old Soviet linemate Sergei Makarov, Igor scored 56 points in just 60 games and led the team with a +20 plus/minus rating. More importantly, Igor helped the Sharks improve 58 points in the standings and make the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In 14 playoff games, Igor led the Sharks with 13 assists and 18 points as the Sharks came within a crossbar of advancing to the Western Conference Finals. In the shortened 1994-95 season, Igor played just 33 games but still scored 24 points. In the playoffs that year, Igor led the Sharks with eight assists and co-led the team with nine points as the Sharks again advanced to the second round of the playoffs.
In 1995-96, Igor played just four games with the Sharks before being traded with future considerations to the powerhouse Detroit Red Wings for Ray Sheppard on October 24. By season's end, Igor established career NHL bests with 51 assists, 73 points and a +37 rating as the Red Wings won the Presidents' Trophy with an amazing 131 points and NHL record 62 wins. In the playoffs, the Red Wings played three rounds and Igor scored 13 points in 19 games. In 1996-97, Igor scored 54 points in just 64 games as the Red Wings slipped to second in their regular season division standings. In the playoffs, however, Igor scored 12 points in 20 games and the Red Wings won their first Stanley Cup in 42 years. In 1997-98, Igor and the Red Wings again finished second in season division standings and again won a Stanley Cup in the playoffs. That year, Igor participated in his first NHL All-Star Game and recorded 13 playoff points. In 1998-99, Igor led the Red Wings with 49 assists as the Red Wings won the Central Division season title. In 1999-2000, Igor scored 47 points in 74 games as the Red Wings won their second-best-ever total of 48 wins. On February 18 of that year, Igor notched his 500th NHL point with an assist against the Kings.
On July 1, 2000, Igor signed as a free agent with the Florida Panthers. On October 6, Igor opened the season with two points in a 4-3 loss to his former team, the Canucks. After 26 games and 11 points with the Panthers, Igor was traded back to the Detroit Red Wings on December 28 for defenceman Yan Golubovsky.After scoring 11 points in his first 26 games, he scored 29 points in 39 games with the Red Wings as his new team won the Central Division title.
Before coming to the NHL, Igor spent 12 seasons in the Soviet elite league. In 1977-78, he made his Soviet elite league debut as a teenager and scored three goals in six games for his hometown Khimik Voskresensk. In 1978-79, he played 32 games and in 1979-80 he played 42 games. In 1980-81, Igor scored 45 points in 43 games. In 1981-82, Igor joined CSKA Moscow and scored a career best 31 goals (46 games). In 1982-83, Igor was a First Team All-Star with 39 points; in 1983-84, he recorded a then-personal best 26 assists. After recording 28 assists in 1984-85, Igor was a First Team All-Star in 1985-86 with 31 assists and 52 points. After earning First Team All-Star honours again in 1986-87 with 46 points (39 games), Igor was a First Team All-Star and Soviet Player of the Year with 32 assists and 57 points in 1987-88 (51 games). In his final Soviet season, Igor scored 27 points in 31 games. After three years in the NHL, Igor returned to Europe in 1992-93 and scored 29 points in 24 games for HC Lugano of the Swiss National-A.
Igor first won back-to-back gold medals with the Soviet Union at the 1979 and 1980 World Junior Championships. Igor then joined the Soviet national team and won a stunning gold medal over Canada at the 1981 Canada Cup. In 1982 and 1983, Igor and the Soviet Union won back-to-back gold medals at the World Championships. At the 1983 tournament, Igor was named a WC All-Star. In 1984, Igor led the Soviets to a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. Then, in the next three World Championships, Igor won a bronze in 1985, a gold in 1986 (he was a WC All-Star that year) and a silver in 1987. In the summer of 1987, Igor also won a silver medal with the Soviet Union at the Canada Cup tournament. In 1988, Igor won his second Olympic gold medal at the Winter Games in Calgary. In April 1989, Igor won his fourth World Championships gold medal in his final international appearance with the Soviet Union. Seven years later, Igor represented Russia at the World Cup of Hockey.
Igor's nickname is the "Professor". In the Soviet Union, Igor was a member of the famous Green Unit with forwards Makarov and Vladimir Krutov (KLM line) and defencemen Viacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov. Igor and Fetisov co-founded the "Fund for the Social Support For Ice Hockey Players" to support former Soviet players.
Igor and his wife, Elena, have three children (Alyonka, Diana and Igor). Igor's older brother, Evgeny, is a scout with the Dallas Stars.
Personal Information courtesy of the National Hockey League Players' Association, NHLPA.com.