Sergei Fedorov will retire from professional hockey.
Hockey super star Sergei Fedorov will skate no more. As we speculated several weeks ago, the former NHLer retired to take the helm of CSKA Moscow, the Russian club where he first honed his craft playing on a line with Alexander Mogilny and Pavel Bure.
One of the most colorful and decorated Russians ever to don an NHL jersey, Fedorov is returning to the team from which he defected in 1990.
Fedorov had been skating for Siberian powerhouse Metallurg Magnitogorsk since leaving the NHL for the KHL in 2009. In that time, his popularity soared in the country he once believed he would never set foot in again.
Officials hope Fedorov’s Red Army homecoming heralds a change in fortune for the once-dominant Russian squad. The club has struggled in recent years, and many in the Russian media believe his name will attract the top free agents the team has been unable secure in recent years.
A large jersey-shaped banner showing the club's many championship teams hangs in the CSKA Ice Palace in Moscow. It reads "Champion USSR."
In its heyday during Soviet times, CSKA — which stands for the Central Sports Club of the Army — crushed all who stood in its path. If there was a good prospect to be had, that player was simply drafted into the Soviet Army and was, thus, compelled to play. The names associated with CSKA are staggering: From Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Krutov, Vladislav Tretiak and Valeri Kharlamov, to Bure and Mogilny, to the players comprising the Detroit Red Wings’ vaunted “Russian Five” (Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Igor Larionov, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Vladimir Konstantinov) — the powerful CSKA had them all.
Fedorov has been quoted in the Russian media indicating the team will pursue big-name free agents, including Alexander Radulov, with whom the Nashville Predators are parting ways. He has indicated Radulov — who has won the Gagarin Cup (the KHL’s version of the Stanley Cup) — would be welcome in the CSKA camp.
Fedorov’s retirement from competitive hockey seems to finally close the book on an exciting, intriguing, sometimes frightening chapter in hockey history. When Fedorov was young, the world was a very different place and players who defected, left home and family expecting never to return.
Fedorov, like Mogilny before him, helped pave the way for the Russians coming to the NHL today. Unlike Fedorov and Mogilny, today’s Russians leave of their own free will and are free to return at any time. It is hard to contemplate the life-and-death decisions these early Eastern-bloc players were forced to make. Fedorov has said he didn’t know how his family back home would be treated, didn’t know what would happen to him if his escape plans were uncovered, and had no idea how hard it would be to suddenly find himself a stranger in a foreign land who no longer had a country to call his own.
Despite the hardships and heartache, Fedorov thrived in Detroit, becoming a star on and off the ice. While Fedorov electrified hockey fans with his otherworldly skills, his good looks and off ice courting of famous beauties kept the gossip page editors drooling. He glimmered and shone in the glare of the limelight and somehow seemed destined to eventually end up in California among the “beautiful people.”
He played almost a full season for the Anaheim Ducks, maintaining the level of play observers had come to expect. Following the NHL lockout, which killed the entire 2004-05 season, Fedorov’s offensive production fell off. He was traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets early in the 2005-06 season. Though his offensive output was no longer what it once was, Fedorov brought some much-needed star power to the fledgling Blue Jackets. And though the team struggled, fans in Ohio were treated to the hockey stylings of one of the best to ever play the game.
Fedorov provided a solid veteran presence in Washington in the waning days of his NHL career.
Fedorov finished his NHL career with the Washington Capitals who, at the time, were a run-and-gun, offensive juggernaut. Fedorov brought veteran leadership and a calming presence to a group of exuberant, budding young super stars — particularly countrymen Alexander Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. The team made the playoffs each of his three years with the club, but was never able to reach the Stanley Cup Final.
In 2009, with a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Fedorov’s NHL career came to an end. The following year, Fedorov was at last going home, signing a contract with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, where he could fulfill his dream of playing alongside his younger brother Fedor.
In 20 NHL seasons Fedorov played for four different teams, skating in 1248 games, and amassing 483 goals and 1179 points. He is a three-time Stanley Cup champion (1997, 1998, 2002). He won the Selke Trophy twice (1994, 1996) and captured the Hart Memorial Trophy in 1994 and the Lester B. Pearson Award in 1996.
Photographs: Fedorov with Magnitogorsk by Tatiana Markina/The Hockey Goddesses; CSKA Ice Palace by Geneen Pipher/Hockey VIPs Magazine; Fedorov with Washington by Shannon Valerio/Hockey VIPs Magazine