Igor Larionov played eight seasons with the Detroit Red Wings (1996-2000, 2001-2003). He was an important member of the iconic Russian Five. He was a leader in the locker room. The man is known for his patience with the puck and awareness up and down the rink.
Although some would argue Larionov's best years were in the 1980s with the Soviet League, he made quite a name for himself in the NHL. He became the symbol of smart two-way hockey. In Detroit, he was simply known as "the professor."
Larionov was a dependable playoff performer. He earned 97 points in 150 playoff games. Maybe the most memorable professor moment came in a triple overtime game in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. Larionov roofed a backhander over a sprawling Arturs Irbe to end the long game. I remember screaming in the early morning. My father had gone to the bathroom for the first time all night when Igor ended it. Quite hilarious.
Larionov ended his NHL career with the New Jersey Devils in 2004. He finished his pro career in 2006 after a couple seasons in Russia and Europe.
Igor may go down as one of the best hockey players to have so much success in both Russia and North America. The Detroit Red Wings franchise is lucky to have him for eight years. He was a dynamic part of three Stanley Cup teams.
I leave you with this: