A decade ago, Sergei Fedorov was Alexander Ovechkin, streaking up and down the ice, making jaw-dropping plays.Of course the fans in Washington remember the great Fedorov all too well. After all, in 1998 he was a key player for the Detroit Red Wings team that defeated the Washington Capitals in the Stanley Cup finals.
On Tuesday night at the Verizon Center, it was like 1998 all over again as Fedorov scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7.Those were the days. Fedorov was one of my favorite players, the last classic Soviet-era centerman as creative in the offensive zone as he was heady in the defensive zone. He was blessed with speed and puck skills but above all he had a wonderful hockey mind.
It's the first time the Caps have advanced to the second round of the playoffs since 1998, the only time the Capitals have advanced to the Stanley Cup Final. Those Caps were swept by the Detroit Red Wings -- and the winning goal in Game 3, played in Washington, was scored by Fedorov.
Even in the height of his career some people claimed he was an enigma. That always bugged me. While I admit he looked disinterested in Anaheim and Columbus, the truth of the matter was he was an effortless player because he understood the game so well. He was always in such good position that he, unlike so many players in the league, did not have to go all out to make the play. Some fans hate that, I love it. In his prime he was a near perfect hockey player.
He was so flawless offensively that several times in his career he actually dropped back and played entire games as a rearguard, and play it wll. That is an incredibly rare thing to do, especially for an offensive player.
Sometime Fedorov did leave you wanting more, especially offensively. Even though he scored nearly 500 goals and nearly 1200 points, his talent suggested he could have raised those numbers some. But the bigger the game the better the performance by Fedorov. In four consecutive Stanley Cup playoffs between 1995 and 1998 Fedorov scored 20 points or more. Even Wayne Gretzky never scored 20 points in four consecutive playoffs.
As far as I am concerned Sergei Fedorov is an easy lock for the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a key member of three Stanley Cup championships. He won a Hart Trophy and Pearson Trophy, and two Selke's and scored nearly 500 goals and 1200 points.