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Viacheslav Fetisov

Viacheslav Fetisov

Russian ice hockey player

Viacheslav Alexandrovich "Slava" Fetisov (born 20 April 1958) is a Russian former professional ice hockey defenceman. He played for HC CSKA Moscow for 13 seasons before joining the National Hockey League (NHL), where he played with the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. With the Wings, he won back-to-back Stanley Cups and was part of the team's Russian Five unit. After retiring from his playing career, he became the assistant coach for the New Jersey Devils. Having a very successful four years, he helped get the team to two Stanley Cup finals and one Stanley Cup victory. In addition to that, he won two Olympic gold medals and seven world championships. His Stanley Cup wins, Olympic gold medals, and World Championship wins make him a member of his sport's prestigious Triple Gold Club.

Fetisov was instrumental in breaking the barrier that had prevented Soviet players from leaving the Soviet Union to join the NHL. His actions not only resulted in a number of top Soviet players joining the NHL, but encouraged many of the best players from all over Europe to go to North America. Internationally, he was a long-time captain for the Soviet Union national team and is a two-time Olympic champion. In 2002, Fetisov led the Russian Ice Hockey Olympic team as GM and Head Coach, attaining a bronze medal. Considered one of the best defencemen of all time, he was voted as one of six players to the International Ice Hockey Federation's (IIHF) Centennial All-Star Team.

After retiring as a coach, Fetisov embarked on a political and executive career. After the 2002 Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin offered him the position as Minister of Sport, a post he held until 2008. He is a member of the upper house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, the Federation Council representing Primorsky Krai, the founder and chairman of the KHL's Board of Directors and chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athletes Committee. Fetisov was president of professional Russian hockey club HC CSKA Moscow of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He was also the key member of the bidding committee that presented the Sochi 2014 proposal to the IOC in Guatemala in 2007, when a city was being chosen to host the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Fetisov debuted for CSKA Moscow's junior team at sixteen years old. He joined the senior team in the Soviet Championship League in 1978–79 and recorded 29 points in 29 games as a rookie. In his fourth season, Fetisov reeled off 41 points in 46 games to be named the 1982 USSR Player of the Year. Four seasons later, he won his second Player of the Year recognition after a 34-point season in 1985–86.

Fetisov soon expressed a desire to play in the NHL and submitted a request to Soviet officials. However, Soviet players defecting to North America was strictly discouraged at the time and his request was met with great resistance. Fetisov has recalled the Soviet Minister of Defence, Marshal Dmitry Yazov, giving him an ultimatum at the time to either apologize or be sent to Siberia. Nevertheless, at the age of 31, helped by the Soviets' newfound glasnost policy, Fetisov led a group of eight Soviet players, including Helmut Balderis, Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, Sergei Mylnikov, Sergei Priakin and Sergei Starikov, into the NHL. Soviet hockey officials agreed to allow Soviet players to play in the NHL as long as they continued to compete internationally for the Soviet Union.

Fetisov had been drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1978 NHL Entry Draft eleven years prior. However, unable to play in North America at the time, he was re-entered into the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, where he was selected by the New Jersey Devils. Fetisov debuted with the Devils in 1989–90 and recorded eight goals and 42 points, both NHL career-highs for Fetisov.

He played in New Jersey until 1994–95, when he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings in April 1995. Fetisov began producing immediately with the Red Wings, scoring 14 points in 14 games to finish the season after the trade. He helped the Red Wings to the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals, where they were defeated by his former team, the Devils. The following season, Fetisov matched his career high in points with 42-points in 1995–96. He was named to his first NHL All-Star Game in 1997, then won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Detroit in 1997 and 1998, before announcing his retirement. He took the Stanley Cup to Moscow after the 1997 championship, where the trophy appeared for the first time in Russia.

Timeline

April 20, 1958
Viacheslav Fetisov was born in Moscow.

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