I've said it time and time again - Viacheslav Fetisov should be a Hockey Hall of Famer even if he never had played in the National Hockey League.
Fetisov was in his 30s by the time political reform in Eastern Europe allowed him to ply his trade in the NHL. He came over here and played nearly a decade as a solid veteran rearguard, but his once obvious brilliance was subtle in comparison to his best days in the 1980s.
He was that good. He was an equal of Ray Bourque or Paul Coffey, almost universally regarded as the greatest Russian defenseman of all time. His prime was spent from 1978 through 1989 with the mighty Soviet national team and CSKA Moscow club team, then better known to North Americans anyways as the Red Army team.
Tonight the 51 year old, who last played in 1998, comes out of retirement to don the CSKA Moscow jersey once again.
Fetisov is currently the president of the team, which now is part of Russia's vaunted KHL circuit. The team's blueline has been decimated by injuries, bringing the former member of the Russian parliament to once again strap on the skates.
Russian journalist Sergey Averiyanov suggested to me that Fetisov may only be expected to take a couple of shifts. CSKA coach Sergei Nemchinov was quoted as saying Fetisov does practice with the team "constantly," so his skating legs and puck hands should be ready to go.
KHL games and highlights can be viewed online here.
In case you're wondering, Gordie Howe remains the oldest player to play in a major domestic league. Howe was 52 years and 1 week old when he played his last NHL game.