Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Yesterday I was asked by my friend and hockey expert Arthur Childovski (http://www.chidlovski.com/) the following question:

Alex, is there any info on how Larionov reacts to the KHL? It seems that Igor was one of the biggest free-thinkers in the history of soviet russian hockey as a hockey player and personality. I am curious if he allows stints like this to be played using his name...

This is my answer:

I think you hit the"ZERO". I tried to find some Larionov interviews or quotes on KHL. The result is close to NOTHING (and nothing at all for 2009!), only technical staff about EuroLeague etc. This kind of silence says a lot to every ex-Soviet, right?
I was able to find one-year old interview that I published here (the last one). All his comments on KHL he did for NA press are completely different comparing with Russia press (Zubov, Fedorov, Ovechkin etc)

Here we are:

By Paul Hunter, Toronto Star. November 2008

During a stellar hockey career, Igor Larionov was known for his tremendous on-ice vision. It should be no surprise that the deep-thinking centre possesses visionary qualities off the ice as well.
So as the great Russian trailblazer held court with the media on the morning of his induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame – honoured for great careers on both sides of the Atlantic – he shared his dream for the upstart Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), the new pro loop in his home country for which he sits on the board of the directors.
Although he concedes that the quality of play between the KHL and NHL is currently "not even close," he said he foresees a day when the champion of each league will play off for a world pro title.
Larionov also said that, in the spring, the Russian league will consider potential expansion into untapped hockey markets such as China, Japan and Korea and the KHL hopes to help establish a Russian junior league, as a feeder system, by September. This despite the fact some of the league's teams are struggling financially during the current global economic downturn.
The 47-year-old also called for the NHL and KHL to work together to grow the game internationally.
He also conceded that he is an optimist.
"We don't need a cold war right now in hockey," he said. "The KHL is starting to make its first steps toward recognition. We should be working together (with the NHL) to make the game globally recognized and to find new markets."
So far the relationship between the two leagues is so cold you could skate on it. There is no agreement between the NHL and the Russian hockey federation when it comes to player transfers so any movement between the two hockey powers is often viewed with suspicion, anger and resentment.
When Alexander Radulov jumped from Nashville to Russian club Salavat Ufa, for a three-year contract reportedly worth $13 million (U.S.), it drove what appears to be an immovable wedge between the NHL and the new league. That was only exacerbated by the recent defection of Montreal prospect Pavel Valentenko, who signed with Dynamo Moscow when he was allowed to go home for personal reasons.
Despite the acidic relationship between the NHL and the neophyte 24-team league, Larionov said he doesn't see the KHL as "a threat to the NHL at this moment. Some NHL guys went to play this season (in the KHL) but we're not talking about some big names except (Jaromir) Jagr."

Another one by Globe and Mail . March 31, 2009

Larionov said the economics of the KHL make little sense today, given that some teams in Moscow draw as few as 1,000 or 2,000 fans a game and ticket prices are modest — the equivalent of $5, $10 or $15. At that rate, he does not believe the salaries on offer last season — as much as $10-million to Pittsburgh Penguins star Evgeni Malkin — are sustainable over the long term. Malkin's former team in Russia, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, is one of several clubs struggling to meet its payroll commitments.
"I ask myself: How long is it going to last?" Larionov said. "You want to be wise economically. You want to get ticket sales and apply to the salaries. Now, we have great support from big companies and business people, but how long is it going to last? That is why we have to sit down and talk."

Championat. ru July 2008

- What supposed to be done to get KHL well promoted?
- I believe one day we (KHL) should be as good as the NHL. We are not to copy the NHL but have to implement all the best from there and there is very little "bad" in the NHL...Believe me I know what I am talking about, I played there for 15 years...


  1. It really isn't clear what Larionov is doing now. Last season he was the director of hockey operations for SKA St. Petersburg, in addition to being on the board of directors of the KHL; however, he resigned his St. Petersburg position at the end of the season and returned to North America. Of course, he never really left -- his family stayed in the USA (he has actually built a new house in Detroit and has moved his family from LA to Detroit), and he was constantly flying back and forth.

    The KHL website still lists him as a board member, but then they also still list him as director of hockey operations for SKA. He might be just a ceremonial name on that board.

    I found this a couple of weeks ago in Sport-Express, from an interview with SKA coach Barry Smith (sorry, it's in Russian, too lazy to translate now, but if anyone would like a translation, I'll be more than happy -- it doesn't really say much more than what I said above):

    - По окончании сезона СКА покинул директор по спортивным операциям Игорь Ларионов. Хотя официальной информации о его возвращении за океан не было. В чем тут дело?
    - В жизни Игоря этим летом произошли большие перемены. Он покинул Лос-Анджелес, в котором жил последние годы, и вернулся в Детройт. Основная причина - его сын, который занимается хоккеем. Со всех точек зрения он получит лучшие условия именно в Детройте. Не секрет, что в этом городе Ларионов - значимая фигура, да и его партнер по винному бизнесу также находится там. Насколько знаю, Игорь построил новый дом в пригороде Детройта, а при таких изменениях в жизни было трудно постоянно находиться в процессе здесь, в Петербурге. Он очень много времени проводил в дороге. Мое мнение - Ларионову нужно что-то более серьезное и глобальное, чем работа в клубе. Таким личностям нужно быть частью лиги, развивать хоккей, вести за собой людей. Ларионов - посол хоккея.

  2. Alex, thanks for your kind words about me - really appreciate it. as for larionov, tons of respect to him, as a player and as a person. he is always intelligent and i don't remember him ever not being honest, even when it doesn't exactly fits his inetests.