Nobody can say they didn’t get their money’s worth from Mikhail Anisin at this year’s KHL All-Star Game in Riga.
If fans weren’t satisfied with the three second-period goals he scored for Team Ozolins in a 15-11 loss to Team Fedorov, perhaps they enjoyed the rendition of the favourite Italian tune ‘O Sole Mio’ the 23-year-old forward gave in uniform on the ice before the game.
“I visited La Scala [Teatro alla Scala] in Milan when I was a kid and I listened to Luciano Pavarotti's aria live,” Anisin told sports paper Sovietski Sport after the game. “And at the skills competition I remembered Luciano and decided to perform 'O Sole Mio' that he sang that day.”
At the post-game party ‘Misha’ entertained once again, taking the microphone for a series of Russian songs, sometimes accompanied by Latvian entertainer Liene Candy Greifane. He has a high quality voice and complements it with all the correct gestures of an experienced entertainer.
Anisin, who stands only 164 cm (5-5) and weighs just 68 kilos (150 lbs), is the latest sensation in the KHL when he’s not singing at various venues around Moscow. When he walked into the lobby of Riga’s Hotel Latvija the day before the KHL All-Star, few fans approached him for an autograph. In fact, many thought he must be the stickboy.
But he has blinding speed and a huge amount of determination. In fact, he’d loved to play in the NHL some day. Even if Boston Bruins giant Zdeno Chara, who is almost a foot-and-a-half taller than him, is still around.
Before the All-Star break, Anisin was leading Vityaz Chekhov in scoring with 16 goals and 29 points in 38 games. But with the club more famous for gooning performances than hockey skills out of playoff contention, he was transferred to Dynamo Moscow, which is currently in fourth place in the Western Conference.
Misha, of course, is the son of Vyacheslav Anisin, who earned three World Championship gold medals playing centre for the Soviet Union (1973-75) and also skated for the Soviets in the 1976 Canada Cup.
But the elder Anisin is best known for being the pivot man on a rookie line with Yuri Lebedev and Alexander Bodunov in the 1972 Summit Series, the first time the Soviets had ever faced Canada’s best NHL players.
The line gave Team Canada so much trouble that fans nicknamed it the ‘headache’ line, a reference to Anicin, which was a popular off-the-shelf medication for headaches at the time.
The night before the All-Star Game, Slava Anisin, playing without a helmet at the age of 60, scored a goal for Team Fetisov (Russia) in an 11-7 win over Team Balderis (Latvia).
After winding up his career in the Soviet Union, Slava played one season with Medvescak Zagreb, a club from the Croatian part of former Yugoslavia, before becoming a playing coach with Fiemme Cavalese and Saima Milan in Italy for two seasons.
He then returned to his native land and served as head coach of Spartak Moscow and Krylya Sovietov.
Anisin’s daughter Marina Anisina, from his first marriage to figure skater Irina Chernayeva, teamed up with Gwendal Peizerat to win the gold medal in ice dancing for France at the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. She was inducted into France’s Legion of Honour Order, the highest award the country presents.
His son Misha loved karaoke. He also sang everywhere he could and learned by himself at home. When he was just six years old, he and his mother Tamara met a friend who was a singing teacher at the famous Bolshoi Theatre. She invited him to a competition there. He was successful, but said he preferred to be a hockey player.
After some transfers among junior teams and minor leagues, Anisin had his breakthrough season at age 20 with Sibir Novosibirsk. Since January the former CSKA junior is back in Moscow, this time with Dynamo.
Former Soviet world champion Vyacheslav Anisin with his son and current Dynamo Moscow player Mikhail. Photo: Denis Gibbons