Name: Igor Larionov
Born: December 3, 1960 in Voskresensk, Russia
Drafted: 11th Round (214th overall) by the Cannucks in the 1985 draft
Salary: $1.7 million
Nicknames: "The Professor", "The Russian Gretzky"
|1983||Gold Medal in World Championships|
|1984||Gold Medal in Winter Olympics|
|1988||Soviet Player of the Year|
|1988||Gold Medal in Winter Olympics|
|1998||Western Conference All-Star Team|
The Finesse Game
Larionov is like a point guard in basketball. He moves around, holds the puck and holds the puck, encouraging his teammates to skate to an opening so he can make a creative pass. He curls back, draws defenders towards him, then sends the puck into the openings they have left for him. When Larionov is on the ice, his team becomes a group of interchangeable parts. Everybody plays offense, everybody plays defense, and makes it look simple, as though this is the only way to play the game, and as though hockey is art, not sport. Among the best playmakers ever to come out of the old Soviet system, Larionov is an agile, elusive skater with marvellous hand skills and a creative mind. He is extremely difficult to knock off the puck and difficult to defend because he forces an opponent to make decisions: do I go to him or hold my ground? While the opponent is thinking, Larionov is making things happen. Larionov will not overpower many goalies with his shot but he will score with a variety of in-tight moves. He can work the point on the power play, kill penalties, and is always a threat to score a shorthanded goal.
The Physical Game
Larionov generally practises restraint, but a defining moment in Detroit's season came when he became entangled with Peter Forsberg--setting off the fracas in which the Red Wings settled their score with Colorado over Claude Lemieux's check on Kris Draper during the 1996 playoffs. Larionov is wiry and fit, usually above the fray when things get nasty. He is smart enough to realize the team is better served if larger forwards win the puck and get it him, rather than the other way around.
Larionov got almost one-third of his points on the power play last season. He has played a lot of hockey over a lot of years, but remains a youthful, creative scoring threat who, with Detroit's forwards, still figures to approach a point per game as long as he can stay healthy.
SOURCE: HOCKEY SCOUTING REPORT