January 15, 2014

International Hockey Legends of the Day

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

Alexei Guryshev - Although often forgotten by modern generations, Alexei Guryshev is a legend of Russian hockey, particularly with the Soviet Wings team (Krylja Sovetov).

Described as the "Phil Esposito of the early decades Russian hockey," Guryshev is the third highest scorer in Soviet hockey history with 379 career goals, trailing only Boris Mikhailov and Vyacheslav Starshinov. He was a scoring machine, adding 35 goals in 41 Olympic/World championship games. Like Esposito, Guryshev often scored on rebounds and in the slot. His shot was reportedly extremely heavy, despite next to no wind up.

He teamed expertly on a line with Pyotr Kotov and Sergi Mitin, and later with Nikolai Khlystov and Mikhail Bychkov. Wings coach Vladimir Yegorov wisely built his lines around Guryshev's sharpshooter abilities. He made sure Guryshev's wingers were speed demons who could draw defenses to them, and then place a perfect pass to the lurking Guryshev. He would elegantly slide undetected into position and in a split second fire the puck on net.

Here's the full Alexei Guryshev feature.

International Hockey Legend of the Day:

Dominik HasekThe knock against European goalies used to be that they could not succeed in the NHL. Dominik Hasek played the biggest role in dispelling that myth.

Only Vladislav Tretiak is regarded as a greater European goaltender. In fact Hasek, born in Pardubice, Czechoslovakia, is the all time leader among European goalies in NHL games played and is regarded as not only the best European goalie, but one of the greatest goalies of any generation.

When he was on top of his game in Buffalo, Hasek may have been the most entertaining goalie ever to watch. His style is so indescribable and unorthodox yet so entertaining to watch. He has been known to do somersaults and back-strokes to stop the puck.

Hasek's greatness was hindered by politics. Until the fall of the Iron Curtain in the early 1990s, superstar players from Communist Europe had little hope of ever playing in the NHL. Therefore, Hasek, who grew up idolizing Czech goaltending legend Jiri Holecek, spent some of his best years as the top goalie outside of the NHL.

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