Tuesday, 15 September 2009

17 Again

It's seventeen days until the beginning of the hockey season! You know what that means, right?

Or do you?

You might think you know, but I'll bet you're wrong. Unless you think it's...

This is when I expect anyone born after 1985 to go, "Um, who?" And you're kind of (totally) justified, since Val died in 1981. If you want to know all about him in that ye-old-bio-and-stats way, I suggest you click here.

Now, the reason it is Valery Kharlamov Days today instead of, say, Petr Sykora Days or Ilya Kovalchuk Days today, is because Kharlamov was THE number 17, kind of the way Maurice Richard was THE number 9 or how Steve Yzerman was THE number 19. Sykora and Kovalchuk wear 17 and Evgeni Malkin wears the reverse (71) to honour Kharlamov. And they do not do so without good reason: Valery Kharlamov is a Russian Hockey Legend. One could even say he is THE Russian Hockey Legend. Heck, he was so popular that my mother remembered knowing who he was during the 1972 Summit Series... (And my mum? Not really a hockey fan, despite growing up in Montreal during the 1970s - what was wrong with her, I will never know...)

Kharlamov began playing professionally with CKSA Moscow in 1967 and was an integral part of the Russian national teams that won Olympic gold in 1972 and 1976. He was also part of the 1980 Olympic team that lost in the gold medal game to the USA "Miracle" team. In his 14-year career, he won three Olympic medals (two gold, one silver), 8 world championships and 11 national championships... Sick. Just sick. Where was Canada??? Oh, right, we were the NHL. Right. Sorry. Back to Val...

His career was cut tragically short by the fatal car-accident in August of 1981. He was only 33. He is interred in Novokuntsevskoe Cemetery in Moscow. If you're ever, you know, in the area and you want to check it out, I'd love a photo. Seriously.

His legacy lives on on the backs of a handful of NHL jerseys, and in the form of a trophy (the Kharlamov Trophy is award every year to the best Russian NHLer as voted by all Russian players in the NHL) and a division of the KHL.

Even 28 years after his death, Kharlamov remains one of the most recognizable names in Russian hockey. He was post-humously inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998, and into the Canadian Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005.

So, with all due respect to my beloved Petr Gunn and the lovely Ilya Kovalchuk:

Happy Valery Kharlamov Days, Everyone!


Val said...

I love this post because it pays a great tribute to a great player...thanks, Mer!

Kylie said...

I like it!

I'll probably have to go back and re-read, seeing as how I currently do not have my glasses on. Took my contacts out and can't find my glasses - nice move, Kylie.

mer said...

Ky, have you checked all nearby potted plants? The vegetable crisper? You underwear drawer?

ali said...

Ummm... I was, in fact, born AFTER 1985 and I knew who this was right away.


Because I watch the movie Miracle more than is probably healthy...

Even if it's not healthy...I am pretty excited that I recognized his name because of all the Miracle stuff I've read/watched.

Oh happy day! It's almost hockey season!