Skip to main content

Sergei Gonchar's All-Time All-Russian All-Star Team


Rick Gosselin of the Dallas News recently put new Dallas Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar on the spot, asking the veteran Russian defenseman to name the best Russian players of all time.

As Gosselin suggests, Gonchar is the perfect person to ask.

The eyes of Stars defenseman Sergei Gonchar provide a window to Russian hockey.

Gonchar grew up watching Vladislav Tretiak, Valeri Kharlamov and the KLM line win world championships and Olympic gold medals. Gonchar himself became a first-round NHL draft pick in the 1990s and went on to play against the next generation of Soviet greats: Pavel Bure, Sergei Zubov, Alexander Mogilny and the Russian Five in Detroit.

Gonchar, 39, has seen his countrymen enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He’s seen them capture league and playoff MVP honors. He’s seen them win NHL scoring titles and rookie of the year acclaim. Name a Russian great, and he’s in Gonchar’s mental Rolodex.

So I asked Gonchar the other day to pick his all-time Russian team.

So who did Gonchar select?

Alexander Ovechkin on right wing, over Alexander Mogilny.

“Great shot, great power,” Gonchar said. “He has an ability to go through a defense with his energy and power.”

Valeri Kharlamov on the opposite wing, over Ilya Kovalchuk

“The guy could win games by himself. He was doing things with the puck that no one else could do.”

In the toughest decision Gonchar selected Sergei Fedorov at center, over Pavel Datsyuk, only saying "He’s probably the best pure skater we’ve ever sent over here.”

On defense Gonchar refused to consider himself, naturally, even though he is the highest scoring Russian defenseman in NHL history. He selected Viacheslav Fetisov and Sergei Zubov.

“Fetisov changed the game back home with the way he jumped in and created offense by joining the rush,” Gonchar said. “That was tough for him, because not every coach liked that style from a defenseman. He was doing something different that people weren’t used to. You have to respect him for that. He belongs at the top of this list.”

“Zubov controlled the puck on the breakouts and power play,” Gonchar said. “He had the rare ability not only to see everything but to control the pace of the game. He could slow it down or speed it up. That’s not easy to do, especially at this level.”

To no one's surprise Gonchar opted for the great Vladislav Tretiak in net.

“I’m told he was one of the game’s greatest workers and one of its greatest students — plus that natural talent. Put those three things together, and you’ve got a great mix.

Comments

Joanne Millard said…
Good selection by Gonchar. However, the only change I would make would be Sergei Makarov st right wing. At the top of his game (before joining the NHL), his skills were unmatched in all facets of the game.

Popular posts from this blog

100 Greatest Hockey Players Of All Time

What follows is a listing of the 100 greatest hockey players of all time, in my opinion. As discussed earlier, the definition of greatness is a very personalized endeavor and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it.
While there is no way of ever truly ranking the top 100 definitively, it is important for the creators of such lists to be open and transparent of how the came to their conclusions. That accountability allows the reader to better understand the process. 

Although admittedly I'm using a completely unscientific formula, I weigh career achievements (era statistics, awards, championships) and legacy (impact on and off ice, peak dominance) equally high. I rank player ability as the third most important ingredient, as first and foremost as a tie breaker. Hence, I'm not necessarily looking for the better player, as in text book definitions of what a hockey player should be, but for players with the greatest careers and greatest legacies. Therefore the best player is not n…

Top Ten Junior Players Of All Time

Let's take a look at the Top Ten junior players of all time. For the purposes of this list we will at players in the WHL, OHL and QMJHL only.

10. Pat Lafontaine, Verdun, QMJHL Rookie-record 104 goals, 234 points in 1982-83; major junior player of the year.

9. Denis Potvin, Ottawa, OHL 254 games, 95 goals, 234 assists, 329 points. Broke Bobby Orr's junior records.

8. John Tavares, Oshawa, OHL 215 goals, 433 points in 247 games; most goals in OHL history; eligibility rules changed to admit him at 15; 2006 major junior rookie of the year, 2007 major junior player of the year; two world juniors, named 2009 all-star, top forward and MVP.

7. Sidney Crosby, Rimouski, QMJHL 120 goals, 303 points in 121 games; two-time major junior player of the year; silver and gold with Canada at two world juniors.

6. Eric Lindros, Oshawa, OHL 97 goals, 216 points in 95 games; one Memorial Cup victory; three world junior tournaments; major junior player of the year in 1991.

5. Mike Bossy, Laval, Q…

Greatest Hockey Legends: M