The recent announcement that Igor Larionov had been inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame was a pleasant surprise for all hockey fans who have had the pleasure of watching “The Professor” grace the ice over three decades. Rest assured, this recognition was for his entire portfolio. While local fans may have enjoyed his 8 years in the Winged Wheel, it was his universal respect with players and coaches that ended up getting the Center into the Hall.
Considered to be one of the original defectors from the Soviet Union, Larionov’s position on the KLM line with Krutov and Makarov began his eventual move to the NHL. Following getting drafted by the Canucks, Wings fans will remember that he played for a certain San Jose Sharks team in 1994 which shocked a heavily favor Detroit squad. The Wings eventually made amends and Larionov will forever be etched in history for his 3 Stanley Cup titles with Detroit. His position on the “Russian Five” line is considered legendary, as were his timely goals during numerous playoff runs.
Lost in the lockout season of 2004-5, dozens of Hall of Famers made the trip to participate in the “Farewell from Moscow” game. This game was designated as Larionov’s official retirement from the sport. Retirement has only been relevant for Igor as his wine company has drawn rave reviews globally. I can only imagine that a bottle or two must have been cracked open upon hearing his induction. Congrats Igor, you’re a true class act!