Each day until the Sochi Olympics I will be highlighting two international hockey legends. One will be Russian, the other will be an international star.
Russian Hockey Legend of the Day
Venjamin Alexandrov - Playing on the second great troika with Alexander Almetev and Konstantin Loktev, Venjamin Alexandrov was considered the greatest Soviet player of his time.
Alexandrov drew some incredible comparisons. He was dubbed "Bobrov 2" in Russia, after the first great Soviet star, Vsevolod Bobrov. The great Russian coach Anatoli Tarasov had another comparison though - Montreal Canadiens star Maurice "Rocket" Richard.
Tarasov once had a conversation with the Rocket, where Richard said his secret to success was to not worry about the two or three burly defensemen that are about to crush him as he shoots on goal. He concentrates only on finding the open spot in the net, and takes whatever punishment the other team can dish out. After all, as long as Richard scored, he would be handing out the ultimate punishment. Tarasov instantly thought of his own Alexandrov when Richard had said this.
"I think that our Alexandrov, by his style of game, by his ability to keep a level head even in the most explosive situations, looks something like Maurice Richard, the great master of attack," said Tarasov in his book Road to Olympus.
Here's the full Venjamin Alexandrov profile.
International Hockey Legend of the Day
Ladislav Trojak - The first Slovakian hockey star to ever represent the former Czechoslovakia was none other than Ladislav Trojak. He would go on to be an influential force in hockey history.
Trojak, known as "Patrik" or "Skot" (Scotsman) to his teammates, was discovered almost by coincidence during a tournament held in the Tatra Mountains in 1934. Jan Michalek, a defenseman for Sparta Prague, played in that tournament and was mighty impressed by the Slovakian whirlwind.
Upon his return to Prague, Michalek talked enthusiastically about Trojak. The manager of LTC Prague, one of Europe's top clubs at that time, got curious and decided to take the 6 hour drive to Kosice and check him out.
LTC's manager was blown away when he saw Trojak and immediately approached him to ink a deal. But it was too late, for Troják had just signed with HC Tatry. Undeterred, the manager took Trojak back to Prague and then proceeded to give HC Tatry an undisclosed sum of money in order for them to drop the contract.
Here is the full Ladislav Trojak feature.