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Fetisov-Kasatonov

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01-17-2012, 09:36 AM
  #1
Kshahdoo
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Fetisov-Kasatonov

Imagine if these guys were playing on the same NHL team in their prime. Where would they be in the league's history?

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01-17-2012, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Kshahdoo View Post
Imagine if these guys were playing on the same NHL team in their prime. Where would they be in the league's history?
They hated eachother so no it wouldnt lead to any success unless you put tikhonov on the bench and force them both to play under gunpoint.

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01-17-2012, 10:11 AM
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Kshahdoo
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They hated eachother so no it wouldnt lead to any success unless you put tikhonov on the bench and force them both to play under gunpoint.
First, they didn't hate each other. The problem between them emerged when it came to a choice to leave or to stay. So they were the best friends back to their prime. And second, they're friends again now.

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01-17-2012, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Kshahdoo View Post
Imagine if these guys were playing on the same NHL team in their prime. Where would they be in the league's history?
According to the "top 60 defencemen" project currently going on here, Fetisov is considered 8th alltime, just ahead of Larry Robinson but below 6th placed Denis Potvin. To me, he appeared closer to Potvin. By the way, I think 22 out of 23 participators in the project are North American.

According to the same project, Kasatonov is ranked 39th alltime (which in my opinion is too low). Arguments against him is that he probably was very favoured by his environment (the "green unit"). He was elected a top-2 defenceman in the 1981 Canada Cup where all the best players participated, and where the Soviets seemed to rotate their lines (meaning he did play a lot with other forwards than Kru-Lar-Mak). He was during 10 years considered top-2 among Soviets, and as we know the Soviet national team was as good as Canada's. (Some, though, think the defencemen were the weakest part of their team.)

One of the best NHL teams all-time were arguably the mid-late-1970s Montreal Canadiens. They had great defencemen like Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard and Brian Engblom. I think Soviet had as good defencemen.

Fetisov-Kasatonov should probably have done as well, or perhaps better, than Denis Potvin and his partner (Stefan Persson et al, I think), if playing for NY Islanders of the early 1980s. Those two played on a team with great forwards and good goaltending, that won several Stanley Cups in a row.

If CSKA Moscow had played in the NHL, with the players they had, they likely would have won several Stanley Cups. The duo of Fetisov-Kasatonov would perhaps have been considered the best defensive pairing in the NHL.

If instead transfering the best North American defencemen, so that they would play in the Soviet league, I can imagine Fetisov might be a constant "best defenceman" contender, with Kasatonov being a constant "top-4 defenceman contender. At least offensively, Paul Coffey might have reached as high as in the NHL, while an all-time-great like Ray Bourque also likely would have been great.

(I'm very tired, so sorry if I write unclear of sloppy.)


Last edited by plusandminus: 01-17-2012 at 10:29 AM.
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01-17-2012, 10:31 AM
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I think Potvin is a good benchmark.

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01-17-2012, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by plusandminus View Post
According to the "top 60 defencemen" project currently going on here, Fetisov is considered 8th alltime, just ahead of Larry Robinson but below 6th placed Denis Potvin. To me, he appeared closer to Potvin. By the way, I think 22 out of 23 participators in the project are North American.

According to the same project, Kasatonov is ranked 39th alltime (which in my opinion is too low). Arguments against him is that he probably was very favoured by his environment (the "green unit"). He was elected a top-2 defenceman in the 1981 Canada Cup where all the best players participated, and where the Soviets seemed to rotate their lines (meaning he did play a lot with other forwards than Kru-Lar-Mak). He was during 10 years considered top-2 among Soviets, and as we know the Soviet national team was as good as Canada's. (Some, though, think the defencemen were the weakest part of their team.)

One of the best NHL teams all-time were arguably the mid-late-1970s Montreal Canadiens. They had great defencemen like Larry Robinson, Guy Lapointe, Serge Savard and Brian Engblom. I think Soviet had as good defencemen.

Fetisov-Kasatonov should probably have done as well, or perhaps better, than Denis Potvin and his partner (Stefan Persson et al, I think), if playing for NY Islanders of the early 1980s. Those two played on a team with great forwards and good goaltending, that won several Stanley Cups in a row.

If CSKA Moscow had played in the NHL, with the players they had, they likely would have won several Stanley Cups. The duo of Fetisov-Kasatonov would perhaps have been considered the best defensive pairing in the NHL.

If instead transfering the best North American defencemen, so that they would play in the Soviet league, I can imagine Fetisov might be a constant "best defenceman" contender, with Kasatonov being a constant "top-4 defenceman contender. At least offensively, Paul Coffey might have reached as high as in the NHL, while an all-time-great like Ray Bourque also likely would have been great.

(I'm very tired, so sorry if I write unclear of sloppy.)
I am not a voter, because I have no knoweledge how to rank pre-expansion players, but I agree with you on this. This ranking is mostly made by canadians and canadians players are ranked higher. Orr is clear #1. Then there is a bunch of defensmen, for each of them you can build a case for 2nd place. But for me it's not a coincidence, that Lidstrom is ranked last from this group. It's not a coincidence that Kasatonov is ranked 30 places below Fetisov. Call me a homer but Chara is pretty low, too. After this season his ranking will be really inappropriate. I dont say it's intentional, but it's given by enviroment where the list is created.

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01-17-2012, 11:45 AM
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I am not a voter, because I have no knoweledge how to rank pre-expansion players, but I agree with you on this. This ranking is mostly made by canadians and canadians players are ranked higher. Orr is clear #1. Then there is a bunch of defensmen, for each of them you can build a case for 2nd place. But for me it's not a coincidence, that Lidstrom is ranked last from this group. It's not a coincidence that Kasatonov is ranked 30 places below Fetisov. Call me a homer but Chara is pretty low, too. After this season his ranking will be really inappropriate. I dont say it's intentional, but it's given by enviroment where the list is created.
There are quite a few Americans in the project, too. We were trying to get more Europeans involved at the beginning, but unfortunately it didn't happen.

I tend to agree with you about Chara, but I think that's more a case of having trouble fitting in an active player, rather than bias.

As for Kasatonov, is it so wrong to rank him 14 spots below Vasiliev?

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01-17-2012, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by Kshahdoo View Post
Imagine if these guys were playing on the same NHL team in their prime. Where would they be in the league's history?
Anyway, to answer the original question, they were definitely be up there with Larry Robinson - Serge Savard as the best longterm defense pairing in league history.

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01-17-2012, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Hobnobs View Post
They hated eachother so no it wouldnt lead to any success unless you put tikhonov on the bench and force them both to play under gunpoint.
the falling out between these two guys, which involved kasatonov siding with tikhonov and allegedly selling his teammates out, wouldn't have happened if they had been in north america during their primes.

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01-17-2012, 12:16 PM
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There are quite a few Americans in the project, too. We were trying to get more Europeans involved at the beginning, but unfortunately it didn't happen.
I would love to participate, but unfortunetly, I have lack of knoweledge about players before 1967. And this is probably main problem with europeans.

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I tend to agree with you about Chara, but I think that's more a case of having trouble fitting in an active player, rather than bias.
This would explain Lidstrom case too.

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As for Kasatonov, is it so wrong to rank him 14 spots below Vasiliev?
I dont know. I could create my own list but without players like Chig Johnson or Hod Stuart, shame but I never heard about them and believe me or not I'm one of the most educated guy in history of hockey on czechoslovakian internet. I've read ton of books and watched good amount of old games but such names are beyond me. It's my shame, I would like to participate.

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01-17-2012, 12:51 PM
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I guess it's kind of wrong to separate them and use any top lists. Guys were playing with each other and complementing each other pretty well. Sometimes, you know, 1+1 > 2.

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01-18-2012, 08:46 AM
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This is something I've always had in the back of my head when talking about Fetisov and I'm going to throw it out there. Not saying its right but I'd like to hear some opinions on it, one way or the other:

Post Soviet-bloc era, who is the best Russian defenseman we've seen? I would say Sergei Zubov. A HoFer in my book, but not top five of his era and not a top 100 player all-time. After that, who's second? Konstantinov? If he had played a full career, probably a HoFer. Then who? Malakhov? Huge drop-off there.

It seems to me that Russia consistently produces premier, all-time talent at forward, but develops largely second-tier defencemen. That's why the equation of: Fetisov was the top defenseman on the 80s Russian team + the Russian teams were as good as Canada's best = Fetisov was as good as the all-time NHL defensemen has never held water for me.

Now, I know next to nothing about European hockey of that era, and could be completely wrong. But that's the thought process that always comes up when talking about Fetisov, and I think its suspect at best. If I'm out to lunch here, please, I am willing to be enlightened.

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01-18-2012, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
the falling out between these two guys, which involved kasatonov siding with tikhonov and allegedly selling his teammates out, wouldn't have happened if they had been in north america during their primes.
True, I didnt think of that.

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01-18-2012, 09:14 AM
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(...) Post Soviet-bloc era, who is the best Russian defenseman we've seen? I would say Sergei Zubov. A HoFer in my book, but not top five of his era and not a top 100 player all-time. After that, who's second? Konstantinov? If he had played a full career, probably a HoFer. Then who? Malakhov? Huge drop-off there. (...)
This is a question rather than a dissenting comment, but what do you think of Gonchar? At least before his subpar stint with Ottawa, his HoF-worthiness was openly discussed here.

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01-18-2012, 10:01 AM
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That's why the equation of: Fetisov was the top defenseman on the 80s Russian team + the Russian teams were as good as Canada's best = Fetisov was as good as the all-time NHL defensemen has never held water for me.

Now, I know next to nothing about European hockey of that era, and could be completely wrong. But that's the thought process that always comes up when talking about Fetisov, and I think its suspect at best.
Perhaps some people have that thought process, but it isn't necessary to make such an equation when evaluating Fetisov.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Al Morganti 1/6/1983
If you can look past the red of his uniform, Fetisov may be the closest thing you'll ever see to Bobby Orr. In one particular sequence, he was skating so fast with the puck -- backwards -- that none of the Flyers could catch him.

"You look at that," Bobby Clarke said, "and, if you weren't behind 5-1, you would want to stand up and cheer. Or maybe cry in envy."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Reading Eagle 2/19/1984
The Soviets hold a strong defensive edge with the pairing of Vyacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov, not so arguably the best defensive pairing to ever play the game. And, despite what you read about Wayne Gretzky, many people outside Alberta consider Fetisov to be the hands-down best all-round player in the world. Some even compare him to Bobby Orr.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric Duhatschek 9/1/1984
Of Fetisov, Gretzky said: "He's the best player I've ever played against. His lateral movement and backward skating are as good as some players going forward. Some people may not realize how good he is because they haven't played against him. They say (Bobby) Orr was outstanding, but I think Fetisov is as good."
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Simmons 9/1/1984
Nor can they replace Fetisov, who many believe is the world's best defenceman.

"I would say that the loss of Tretiak is most important and that of Fetisov is next," said [George] Kingston. "Fetisov ran the power play, along with (Alexei) Kasatonov. He's their enforcer. He plays the intimidation game. He's the guy who jumps in on the offensive. And he's got a shot like (Doug) Wilson or (Allan) MacInnis."
Quote:
Originally Posted by David Johnston 12/28/1985
The 27-year-old defenceman was generally regarded as the best hockey player in the world last year before he broke a leg and then suffered through the death of his 18-year-old brother Anatoly in a car accident.

[ed - Fetisov also broke two ribs in that car crash]
The North Americans who saw this guy in person -- and there were a lot of them, as the Soviets frequently played exhibitions here -- raved about his game in a way you simply do not hear about Kasatonov, Vasiliev, Ragulin, Suchy, etc.

How many defensemen have been seriously compared to Bobby Orr in the mainstream press? Maybe Coffey?

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01-18-2012, 10:08 AM
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Post Soviet-bloc era, who is the best Russian defenseman we've seen? I would say Sergei Zubov. A HoFer in my book, but not top five of his era and not a top 100 player all-time. After that, who's second? Konstantinov? If he had played a full career, probably a HoFer. Then who? Malakhov? Huge drop-off there.

It seems to me that Russia consistently produces premier, all-time talent at forward, but develops largely second-tier defencemen. That's why the equation of: Fetisov was the top defenseman on the 80s Russian team + the Russian teams were as good as Canada's best = Fetisov was as good as the all-time NHL defensemen has never held water for me.
Good points, that I also have seen here before. I know many here think the same about Soviet/Russia mostly producing great forwards rather than great defencemen. Many also point out that Fetisov and Kasatonov didn't look Norris caliber when they entered the NHL (which was after their prime/peak).

I think Russia haven't been as dominant as the Soviet was. Maybe the soviets had an advantage compared to the Canadians, in that they trained harder and got to play together more frequently (thus building up "chemistry"), plus that their system of playing seemed excellent. After Soviet dissolved, they may have lost those advantages. Nowadays basically all players - Canadian, Russian, Swedish... - train hard, etc.

It is surprising doping isn't mention more often, as the 1980s was a decade of doping. May doping have occured in hockey too? If so, more in Soviet than in North America?

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01-18-2012, 10:12 AM
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Imo, in the early 1980's Fetisov was on a level not seen since Orr. However, his dominance declined a bit around 1985 due to injuries received in a car crash.

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01-18-2012, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by Reynard View Post
This is something I've always had in the back of my head when talking about Fetisov and I'm going to throw it out there. Not saying its right but I'd like to hear some opinions on it, one way or the other:

Post Soviet-bloc era, who is the best Russian defenseman we've seen? I would say Sergei Zubov. A HoFer in my book, but not top five of his era and not a top 100 player all-time. After that, who's second? Konstantinov? If he had played a full career, probably a HoFer. Then who? Malakhov? Huge drop-off there.

It seems to me that Russia consistently produces premier, all-time talent at forward, but develops largely second-tier defencemen. That's why the equation of: Fetisov was the top defenseman on the 80s Russian team + the Russian teams were as good as Canada's best = Fetisov was as good as the all-time NHL defensemen has never held water for me.

Now, I know next to nothing about European hockey of that era, and could be completely wrong. But that's the thought process that always comes up when talking about Fetisov, and I think its suspect at best. If I'm out to lunch here, please, I am willing to be enlightened.
This is a good question and one I've seen here before. Only recently have I found an article that dispels this concern quite a bit. It appears that well before the fall of the Iron Curtain, the USSR hockey program was already in decline, especially when it comes to defensemen

Quote:
There is a feeling among long-time international observers that the Soviet program is in a state of transition, both in style and personnel. Although the Soviets have been playing hockey for 40 years, their game may be experiencing its first growing pains.

In one move interpreted as desperation, 31-year-old Zinetula Bilyaletdinov was added to the touring squad shortly before the Soviets left for Quebec, although he hadn't qualfied for the national squad in years. (For the Soviets, 30 is nearly ancient in hockey terms. Once past that "golden" age, players are routinely farmed out or given coaching duties.)

The pool of young talent has evidently dried up. The Soviets went victoryless in the recent fight-filled junior championships. [Alan Eagleson] said he couldn't recall seeing a worse collection of Soviet juniors.
-Providence Journal, Feb 14, 1987

I assume most North Americans never heard of Bilyaletdinov. He's often considered the third best Soviet defenseman of the 1980s after Fetisov and Kasatonov, but he was far enough behind them not to be able to steal a single All-Star nod.

Seems the Soviet Hockey system was in decline in the late 80s, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This after its "peak" in the early-mid 80s. Speculation: Did Tikhonov throw away too many players he didn't like?

IMO, Konstantinov was the last great product of the Soviet Hockey program, but his career was cut short before he could become a HHOF-calibre player.

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01-18-2012, 10:41 AM
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How many defensemen have been seriously compared to Bobby Orr in the mainstream press? Maybe Coffey?
Probably none in the mainstream North American press. Suchy was often compared to Orr in the mainstream European press, but I think a lot of that was just how far ahead he was of everyone else in Europe.

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01-19-2012, 08:27 AM
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This is a question rather than a dissenting comment, but what do you think of Gonchar? At least before his subpar stint with Ottawa, his HoF-worthiness was openly discussed here.

Gruß,
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Plain forgot about Gonchar. He's certainly ahead of Malakhov, and an argument can be made for Konstantinov, too.

To the other posters: thanks for the well thought-out responses. Some food for thought, for sure.

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01-19-2012, 08:33 AM
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Funny the coach of the New Jersey Devils mentioned they didn't speak to each othter, so that is hardly considered as friendship.

Maybe things changed, as grudges are very draining.

Going a step further, comparing Fetisov to Orr, they were probably on a level considering talent, but I'd take Orr over Fetisov, as far as the hockey intangible I called instinct.

A further note, Orr I feel wasn't the same since 1972 surgery, but he was still a dominant force as well.

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01-19-2012, 10:05 AM
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Going a step further, comparing Fetisov to Orr, they were probably on a level considering talent, but I'd take Orr over Fetisov, as far as the hockey intangible I called instinct.
I'd take Orr over Fetisov as well, but it gives me pause when I consider that the comments I posted above were made only about 7-9 years after the end of Orr's career, when people still had clear recollection of him at his best. Bobby Clarke played against both of them in their prime, that's how close together they were, and it's not like Clarke was inclined to compliment Russians. For that matter, it's not like Gretzky didn't grow up watching Orr on HNIC.

It would be like someone coming along today who makes Crosby say, "I think this guy is as good as Mario." Pretty high compliment and hard to imagine he could have been too far off.

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01-19-2012, 10:25 AM
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Seems the Soviet Hockey system was in decline in the late 80s, even before the fall of the Berlin Wall. This after its "peak" in the early-mid 80s.
Absolutely so. And signs of that was clearly visible even before 1989, for example in 1987 when Sweden won the World Championships.

Quote:
Speculation: Did Tikhonov throw away too many players he didn't like?
I don't think that was any of the key reasons. Rather, times changed. The fall of communism was likely a key factor. We who are old enough to remember the 1980s remember how the Eastern Block led by Soviet and East Germany dominated many sports, including team sports, at the time. (One of few Olympic sports they didn't excel in was alpine skiing, something I remember well being commented upon at the time, that it might only be a question of time.) The leaders of Soviet wanted their hockey players to be very successful internationally, and thus made as much as they could to make them become that. The best players were able to be full time professionals, that trained much harder than the NHL player in general. Lots of time was spent on practicing play, and building up "chemistry" in order to try to make the whole become larger than its parts. They probably were given the "right food", and probably the right "vitamins".

During the late 1980s, those things started to fall apart. Life for star players became less strict, more room for individuality. Some other countries become better and better, more NHL players started to train harder, etc.

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01-19-2012, 10:41 AM
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Those quotes hold some reallly high praise in them, wow! I love these boards for info like this.

Side note - I've always felt that there is more than just being 'past their prime' to explain why the early Russians weren't quite as amazing as we expected. First, accept that there was some racism lingering from the 70's, which would affect an assortment of things - but then, move on to anew country, new language, listening to a new coach in a new language. Your home life is totally upside down. We can all imagine how tough it would be to be just as good as you were where you were comfortable - but MORE than all that is, new linemates in a new system. NHL'rs were used to swapping linemates, and roles. You play for 8 years with the same 4 guys, in the same rigid system - and then, all of a sudden you got 2 guys, or a d partner, that you can't communicate with, and who play totally different from what you have spent a decade playing with. And, you probably rotate through a few different sets of these each game.

I don't think the big 5 were even exceptionally old when they got here. Mostly right around 30. I think they had serious obstacles to overcome, and, in Larionov's case for sure, and even Fetisov's to a degree - they became 'better' as they got into their twilight years. I don't think they actually got better, at all - just that it took time to adapt... by the time they did adapt, they actually were too old.

I think Makarov probably proved the most, as far as skill, anyways - in his 'rookie' season. 86 points really isn't that great for a prime-aged superstar in that era - but, i remember watching him and thinking that most of his points came in the spectacular variety... suggesting he may have accomplished most of what he did, more or less by himself. I'm not saying his linemates were in any way lacking, just that it seems unlikely that he had anything resembling chemistry with them or his coach.

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01-19-2012, 10:42 AM
  #25
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Originally Posted by plusandminus View Post
Absolutely so. And signs of that was clearly visible even before 1989, for example in 1987 when Sweden won the World Championships.



I don't think that was any of the key reasons. Rather, times changed. The fall of communism was likely a key factor. We who are old enough to remember the 1980s remember how the Eastern Block led by Soviet and East Germany dominated many sports, including team sports, at the time. (One of few Olympic sports they didn't excel in was alpine skiing, something I remember well being commented upon at the time, that it might only be a question of time.) The leaders of Soviet wanted their hockey players to be very successful internationally, and thus made as much as they could to make them become that. The best players were able to be full time professionals, that trained much harder than the NHL player in general. Lots of time was spent on practicing play, and building up "chemistry" in order to try to make the whole become larger than its parts. They probably were given the "right food", and probably the right "vitamins".

During the late 1980s, those things started to fall apart. Life for star players became less strict, more room for individuality. Some other countries become better and better, more NHL players started to train harder, etc.
The article I posted indicated that the Soviet junior program was "in shambles" as early as 1987. To me, that indicates that there was something systematic going on other than just the fall of Communism.

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