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Red Wings Legend Larionov Pegged to be First Russian NHL Coach

Larionov currently coaching in KHL



Igor Larionov, ex-Red Wings
Might Red Wings legend Igor Larionov be the first Russian head coach in NHL history?

No one need tell a Detroit Red Wings fan of a certain generation about the brilliant hockey mind of Igor Larionov. The Professor was the brains of the Russian Five. He’s a cerebral thinker of the game. His triple overtime goal in Game 3 of the 2002 Stanley Cup final remains an iconic tally in franchise history.

Now, more than 20 years after that magical moment, there are some who believe Larionov’s fertile hocokey mind will one day be bringing him back to the NHL to make more history. Longtime scout and player agent Alexey Dementyev is confident that Larionov will be the first Russian to serve as head coach of an NHL team.

“When the time comes and he has the desire, I don’t think Larionov will have any problems getting a job in the NHL,” Dementyev told Russian website With the way he works now and what he knows about hockey, his prospects will be great.”

Larionov Known For Entertaining Hockey

During the so-called Dead Puck Era of the neutral-zone trap and unlimited hooking and holding, Larionov was adamant that hockey should be first and foremost entertaining. He’s taking the same approach to the game while working behind a player’s bench in the KHL. His Torpedo squad is receiving consistent praise. Hockey people admire the way they play the game with flair and pizzazz.

“I am sure that if Larionov wishes, he can absolutely calmly lead an NHL club, and his team will be bright, original, and interesting,” Dementyev said.

Former Russian Five and Red Wings teammate Sergei Fedorov led CSKA Moscow to the past two Gagarin Cup KHL titles. Yet it’s Larionov who is getting the kudos as the league’s best coach.

“Today, Igor Larionov is the brightest coach in the KHL,” Dementyev said. “His work and the team’s play attract great attention.

“Regarding Larionov’s prospects in the NHL . . . Igor speaks excellent English. He understands the mentality of people in the league.”

Another member of the Russian Five, former Red Wings defenseman Slava Fetisov, spent some time as an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils. Vasily Tikhonov was an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks. However, no Russian has ever served as an NHL head coach.

If Larionov is to be the first, it will come later rather than sooner. He was recently agreeing to a three-year contract extension with Torpedo.