Bykov, Costello, Khomutov, Lidström, Salei, Yzerman Class of 2014
MALMÖ – Brilliant performance under historic pressure as well as long-lasting excellence is recognized as the IIHF Hall of Fame inducts players Vyacheslav Bykov, Andrei Khomutov, Nicklas Lidström, Ruslan Salei, Steve Yzerman and builder Murray Costello.
Dr Mark Aubry will receive the Paul Loicq Award for his contributions to international hockey.
The IIHF Historical Committee and its chairman, IIHF President René Fasel, have announced the 18th class of the IIHF Hall of Fame to be ceremonially inducted during the 78th IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Minsk.
Click here for a complete list of all honoured members since the IIHF Hall of Fame was introduced in 1997. It now boasts 195 greats from 23 countries.
Vyacheslav Bykov (RUS)
Born: Chelyabinsk, Soviet Union (Russia), 24 July 1960
Small but remarkably skilled, Vyacheslav (Slava) Bykov was a great passer and team leader during the Soviet Union’s final days of dominance in the latter part of the 1980s and early ‘90s.
In truth, it’s not very often a team’s second line can be said to be better than the first line of most nations, but in the 1980s the nearly unbeatable Soviet Union had a threesome featuring Slava Bykov, Andrei Khomutov, and Valeri Kamenski. Although the three played behind the famed KLM line of Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov, Sergei Makarov, all of whom have been inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame earlier, the Bykov line was, in many ways, equally impressive.
Bykov’s rise to the national team was unexpected, shocking even. At the tender age of 15 he was already a star with the adult team which played in the lower league of Soviet hockey. His talents were duly recognized, and in 1980 he started playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk, not a team with the same pedigree as CSKA Moscow, for instance.
But Bykov was such a fluid skater and master stickhandler that Red Army coach Viktor Tikhonov became quickly impressed. By 1982, Bykov was with Tikhonov’s Red Army team, and at the end of that first season he was helping the mighty Soviets to a 9-1-0 record to win a gold medal at the 1983 World Championship in West Germany.
Tikhonov partnered the centreman Bykov with winger Khomutov, and the pair had a chemistry not often seen on a sheet of ice. In poetic style of the day, the two zig-zagged and criss-crossed their way across the rink, always knowing where the other was, always connected by a seeming umbilical cord that only the most kindred of spirits share.
The line was complete in 1986 when Kamenski, then 20, joined the national team. The Soviets won gold at the 1986 World Championship and continued to dominate over the next half decade and more. In all, Bykov won five World Championship gold to complement Olympic gold in 1988 and 1992. He captained the latter victory, in Albertville, and also wore the “K” for the national team at three WM—1990, 1993, and 1995.
Bykov was also part of the historic Soviet Union team that faced Canada in the best-of-three finals of the 1987 Canada Cup, a series Tikhonov later called the “best three hockey games ever played.” Bykov had a goal and two assists in game two, including a goal and assist in the third period to send the game into overtime.
These years were also a time of massive political change in Bykov’s homeland. The Soviet Union came crumbling down, and a new Russia and group of independent countries emerged. While the KLM line (and Kamenski) all left for the NHL, Bykov and Khomutov decided instead to play in Switzerland. It was there Bykov played, first with Freiburg-Gotteron and later Lausanne, for the last ten years of his career before retiring in 2000. (Khomutov retired in 1998.)
Bykov later turned to coaching and assumed duties of the national team. He coached the Russians to a gold medal in 2008, the Centennial anniversary of the IIHF, defeating Canada in Quebec City in overtime. Incredibly, it was the first gold for Russia since 1993, when Bykov, as a player, had captained the team to victory. He also coached CSKA Moscow and Salavat Yulayev Ufa, the latter winning the KHL’s Gagarin Cup in 2011.
Bykov’s son, Andrei, has played in Freiburg since 2005, completing another circle in the legend’s life as he goes from player to coach to parent to IIHF Hall of Famer.
Andrei Khomutov (RUS)
Born: Yaroslavl, Soviet Union (Russia), 21 April 1961
It’s almost impossible to think of Slava Bykov without Andrei Khomutov or Khomutov without Bykov. A year younger than Bykov, right winger Khomutov was perhaps the more purely talented player of the two and a more obvious prospect from his teenage years. But make no mistake, they were a pair. While Bykov was hardly a star in his early days, Khomutov played at the 1981 U20 and later that year appeared in his first World Championship games while still only 19 years of age.
Khomutov joined the mighty CSKA Moscow as a teenager after spending years with junior clubs in the area where he was born, along the Volga river, in Yaroslavl and Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod). The Soviets won gold in 1981 in Sweden, and Khomutov had his first of seven gold medals over the next decade and a half playing with first the old Soviet Union and later the new, modern Russia.
To complete a remarkable hat trick as an international rookie, Khomutov played for CCCP at the 1981 Canada Cup in September, helping the team win the tournament after a one-sided 8-1 victory over the Canadians in the final game at the Forum in Montreal. He then won gold in each of the next three years, the 1982 and ’83 World Championships and the ’84 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.
Tikhonov went out of his way to praise Khomutov and Bykov for their roles in the 1986 World Championship gold, noting that it was “this pair who killed off most of the penalties,” particularly in the deciding game, a 3-2 win over Sweden.
In 1987, Khomutov, at the height of his powers, was arguably the best Soviet player in the Canada Cup. He scored a monumental goal in game one of the finals. Wayne Gretzky had put Canada ahead 5-4 with only 2:59 remaining in the third period, giving Canada what appeared to be another late, winning goal. But just 32 seconds later, Khomutov tied the game and Alexander Semak scored early in the overtime to take a seeming loss into a stunning victory.
While Bykov was the passer, Khomutov was the scorer. He led the 1990 WM with eleven goals and tied for the lead at the 1992 Olympics with seven. In 123 top-level international games over 15 years, Khomutov recorded 45 goals and 97 points, exceptional statistics given the calibre of competition he faced with regularity. Perhaps more incredibly, Khomutov’s teams in 16 tournaments finished first eleven times, second twice, and third twice.
After hanging up his skates in 1998, Khomutov turned to coaching. He guided teams in Swiss NLA and NLB leagues before going back to Russia when he was a head coach in the KHL as well as the national team coach for Kazakhstan.
Nicklas Lidström (SWE)
Born: Krylbo, Sweden, 28 April 1970
Everyone knows there’s no such thing as a perfect athlete, but Nicklas Lidström perhaps comes closer than any hockey player to earning such praise. His play on defence for Sweden in IIHF competition and the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL over a period of more than 20 years was staggeringly error-free.
A defenceman who was by no means small, Lidström wasn’t physical so much as he was smart, quick, and disciplined. He rarely was out of position, rarely gave the puck up as the last man back, and rarely committed the kinds of errors that led to goals. After being drafted by Detroit in the 3rd round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, Lidström played for Västerås in the Swedish Elite League for two more years before leaving for the NHL. He became an impact player immediately, and the Red Wings never missed the playoffs during his entire career – 20 straight years – a record of success matched only by Larry Robinson.
Because of this NHL success, Lidström played in only three World Championships during his career, winning a medal each time: gold in 1991, bronze in 1994, and silver in 2004. The majority of his international play came in NHL-IIHF events. He played in the first four Olympics involving NHL players, his career reaching its zenith in 2006 when he scored the winning goal early in the third period of the gold-medal game against Finland.
Additionally, Lidström played in the three most recent NHL best-on-best tournaments, namely the 1991 Canada Cup and 1996 and 2004 World Cups of Hockey. His place among the pantheon of greats is further embellished by his incredible NHL accomplishments. He took over the Detroit captaincy from Steve Yzerman in 2006 and two years later became the first European captain to lead his team to the Stanley Cup. The win was the fourth Cup of Lidström’s career. In 2002, he was named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy, again the first European so honoured.
Lidström was also named winner of the Norris Trophy seven times, putting him in the same rarefied company as Bobby Orr (eight) and Doug Harvey (also seven). As important as all the numbers and awards, Lidström played hockey in a way any fan would admire.
He never fought to play tough, was resilient over two decades, and was positionally as strong as any player in league history. No European has played more games than Lidström – both regular season and playoffs – and his contributions to Tre Kronor and to the NHL make it clear he was one of the most gentlemanly and skilled players ever to skate on a sheet of ice.
Ruslan Salei (BLR)
Born: Minsk, Soviet Union (Belarus), 2 November 1974
Died: Yaroslavl, Russia, 7 September 2011
A defenceman who succeeded at the highest level because of determination and ambition more than natural-born talent, Ruslan Salei was a hero in his native Belarus both for representing his country in IIHF tournaments as well as his lengthy NHL career.
In fact, while virtually every European player gets to the NHL by being drafted first and coming to North America after, Salei was so determined to make it that he wasn’t daunted or intimidated by not being drafted into the NHL when he was 18 and 19 years old.
In 1995, at age 20, he signed a contract to play in the IHL with the Las Vegas Thunder. There were no signs whatsoever that he would make it to the NHL or that any team was interested in his talents, but he got to Las Vegas and played impressively. He was also tough, accumulating 123 penalty minutes and proving his abilities to adapt to the North American game. After just one season Anaheim selected him a lofty 9th overall at the 1996 draft, and the next year saw continued and impressive development.
Salei started in the IHL, moved up to the AHL, and ended up playing with the Mighty Ducks for the last half of the 1996/97 season. His days of minor pro hockey were virtually over, but his international career was only just beginning. Salei played for Belarus at the 1994 and 1995 World Championships when the new nation was in C Pool. They won in ‘95 to move up to B Pool, won again without Salei in 1997 to move up to A Pool, and have been in the top pool continuously ever since (with two exceptions). As a natural leader, Salei has also captained the national team on many occasions.
Belarus has never been one of the top-medal-winning nations, but it has maintained its competitiveness nonetheless. Without doubt the team’s finest result was a 4th-place finish in 2002 at the Salt Lake Olympics, a result that was achieved thanks to a 4-3 win over Sweden in the quarter-finals, the nation’s biggest victory of all time. Salei was one of the best players on ice that game, a defining moment in his career and his country’s hockey history.
Salei played nine seasons with the Ducks, establishing himself as an all-‘round defenceman. Big and tough, he wasn’t afraid to stand up for his teammates. But, he also showed offensive abilities as well, and in 2003 the team went to the Stanley Cup finals before losing to New Jersey in game seven. It was Salei who scored the overtime winner in Game 3, putting Anaheim back in the series after trailing, 2-0.
After signing as a free agent with Florida in 2006, Salei later played for Colorado and Detroit before leaving the NHL in the summer of 2011. He signed with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL but perished in the plane crash that killed the entire team. A short time later, he became a first player inducted into the newly-created Belarusian Hockey Hall of Fame, and his number 24 was retired by the Belarusian Ice Hockey Association for international competition.
Steve Yzerman (CAN)
Born: Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, 9 May 1965
Few players in the history of hockey played with the sportsmanship, determination, and remarkable skill as Steve Yzerman. And fewer men still had such extraordinary success at both the international level and the NHL. In Yzerman’s case, that meant Team Canada and the Detroit Red Wings, the team for whom he played his entire 23-year pro career.
Yzerman was only 17 when he played his first IIHF tournament, the 1983 U20 event in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). A few months later he was drafted by the Red Wings, made the team at his first training camp that fall, and never looked back. After a sensational rookie season he made Canada’s roster for the 1984 Canada Cup, won by the host country.
These were lean years for the Red Wings, and Yzerman played in three World Championships in the next six years. Yzerman led the tournament in both assists (10) and points (19) in 1990, but, incredibly, this was his last World Championship. The Red Wings made the Stanley Cup playoffs each of the next 15 years, more or less eliminating him from WM participation.
It was in 1986 that he was named captain of the Red Wings, at age 21, and Yzerman went on to become the longest-serving captain in NHL history, wearing the “C” for Detroit every year until he retired in 2006.
Perhaps the crowning glory of his international career came in 2002 at the Salt Lake Olympics. Despite a serious knee injury, Yzerman was a key member of Canada’s roster as the nation won gold for the first time since 1952. That summer he underwent knee reconstruction and missed most of the next NHL season, earning the Bill Masterton Trophy in 2003 for his remarkable determination in coming back from the serious procedure.
In the NHL, Yzerman was a scoring machine. He had six consecutive seasons of at least 100 points, and in five of those he also eclipsed the 50-goal plateau. He led the Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1997 and again in 1998 and won for a third time in 2002. His 1,755 career points ranks him sixth all time. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto in 2009 and later guided Canada to a second Olympic gold with NHL players, this time in 2010 in Vancouver as the team’s executive director.
Yzerman’s leadership, combined with more tangible qualities like a great shot and amazing faceoff abilities, made him successful at every level he played.
Murray Costello (CAN)
Born: South Porcupine, Ontario, Canada, 23 February 1934
A former NHLer during the glory days of the Original Six alongside his brother, Les, Murray Costello retired from hockey in 1960 and went on to a great career both nationally, in Canada, and internationally with the IIHF.
He earned a law degree at the University of Ottawa after leaving the game as a player and started his administrative career working in the Western Hockey League. Astute, respected, and dedicated, he worked his way up through the ranks, becoming president of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA) in 1979. For the next two decades Costello was at the helm of the world’s most influential hockey body, and he oversaw massive change in every aspect of its operations.
Costello united the CAHA with Hockey Canada to create a new Hockey Canada, which stands today as the organization that oversees every aspect of hockey in the country, from grassroots development, to establishing youth playing rules, to the highest level of international competition.
His first great change after the merger was to introduce the Program of Excellence to Hockey Canada, the result of which created a junior program second to none. While hockey fans around the world love the annual U20 championship at Christmas and New Year’s, its success in Canada started with that Program and Costello’s ability to convince the country’s three junior leagues (OHL, QMJHL, WHL) to give up their top players for U20 participation.
Additionally, Costello was a supporter of women’s hockey at a time when the game was just developing, and it was under his aegis that the IIHF instituted a Women’s World Championship starting in 1990.
As well as his work with Hockey Canada, Costello also served on the Hockey Hall of Fame Board of Directors starting in 1981. He later expanded his interests to include the IIHF and became a member of the IIHF Council for many years. Recently, he served on the Medical Committee and has contributed more specifically to the IIHF’s expanded network of research into concussions, head injuries, and player safety.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2005 and retired from his formal IIHF duties in 2013.
(for outstanding contributions to international hockey)
Dr Mark Aubry (CAN)
Born: Noranda, Quebec, Canada, 24 November 1954
For more than three decades Dr Mark Aubry has been involved in sports as a doctor both locally in the Ottawa, Canada area and internationally at all top levels of competition.
After starting as the team physician for the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League in 1983, Aubry entered the international hockey arena in 1992 when he was named the chief medical officer for the Canadian Olympic Team in Albertville. That first experience was highly successful and led him to pursue a career in sports medicine with the IIHF that flourishes to this day.
The co-director of the Ottawa Sport Medicine Centre, Aubry became the team physician for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League in 1996, a position he held for a decade. He later became team physician for the Ottawa Senators of the NHL.
In 1998, he became the CMO for the IIHF and six years later added the same title for Hockey Canada to his expanding role in international hockey. He continues to maintain both roles into 2014 and beyond.
Aubry’s role has been one not only of treatment but of prevention. He helped organize the first three Symposia on Concussions in Sport, first in 2001 in Vienna, then 2004 in Prague, and again in 2008 in Zurich. These meetings helped doctors from around the world clarify and detail an agreement on how to identify, assess, and treat concussions, findings that have gone a long way to understanding head injuries.
In addition to his work on concussions, Dr Aubry has made impressive contributions to the research of spinal cord injuries in sport. He helped develop the Hockey Canada Safety Program and is a member of the Hockey Canada Safety Program Committee.
Additionally, he is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission, and in 2006 Dr Aubry received the Dr Tom Pashby Sports Safety Award, the most prestigious sports medicine honour in Canada.
Photos: HHOF-IIHF Images, IIHF Archive, RIA Novosti