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October 01, 2012

Call The Feds: Sergei Fedorov Was A Beautiful Player

Sergei Fedorov was one of my favorite players of his generation. He was 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 - a beautiful hockey mind.

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 well. That is an incredibly rare thing to do, especially for an offensive player.

Sometimes 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.

Like David Beckham, Sergei Fedorov was an athlete larger than life. He was one of the flashiest and best hockey players of his day, paid millions and millions of dollars. He was known outside of the game for fast cars, nice clothes and his relationship with tennis sex symbol Anna Kournikova (and Tara Reid and Danielle Meers, for that matter).

Yet there was a time when Sergei lived a much simpler life. The Russian was born in Pskov, just outside of what we now call St. Petersburg, but he grew up in Apatiti, a town literally north of the Arctic Circle. He learned to skate on the frozen rivers, and before he was a teenager was playing in the local adult hockey league, with his father Viktor as the center.

Word of Sergei's incredible hockey ability traveled fast, even from the Arctic. By the age of 13 his family agreed to let him move to Minsk, in what is now known as Belarus, to attend a special sports school to hone his hockey skills. It would not be long before he was relocated again, this time to Moscow to train with the Red Army and the famed Russian national team.

Full Sergei Fedorov Biography

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