When former Red Wing Igor Larionov retired from the NHL last spring, he knew he had one game left in him. For a year, Larionov had been planning one final game in Moscow, where is Russian fans could see him skate for the last time.
With the NHL locked out and games put on hold, many of Larionov’s former teammates were able to make the trip to Russia with him, to honor the player who last year was the oldest in the NHL.
Larionov assembled a team of Russian All-Stars to take on a team representing the rest of the world, comprised mostly of his former teammates. Retired Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman returned to the bench along side former associate coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith to lead the world team while Larionov’s former linemates from the Soviet Red Army team, Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, coached the Russian team.
New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur, Patrick Elias, Scott Gomez and Jay Pandolfo joined Red Wings Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Dandenault, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Ray Whitney and Henrik Zetterberg on the World team. Former Red Wings Steve Duchesne, Martin Lapointe, Chris Osgood and Luc Robitaille also played.
The Russian squad was made up of Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Gonchar, Valeri Kamensky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Larionov, Danny Markov, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Samsonov and Oleg Tverdovsky.
The World team, most of whom hadn’t played competitively since last season, got off to a slow start and Brodeur allowed early goals to Nikolishin and Samsonov. McCarty responded later in the period and the Russians had a 2-1 lead after one period.
Osgood replaced Brodeur between the pipes for the second period but couldn’t stop Larionov from scoring on a quick shot from the slot, as Larionov capped his career with a goal in his final game in front of his home crowd.
For the third period, Larionov and Yzerman switched teams, complete with Yzerman donning a Russian jersey with his name in Cyrillic on the back. Yzerman, possibly playing in his final game as well, scored twice for the Russians as they held off the World team for a 6-5 win.