COLORADO SPRINGS, United States – The late Anatoli Tarasov will be honoured as the recipient of the prestigious Wayne Gretzky International Award as part of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony & Dinner on October 10 in Denver. The award, established by the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999 and first presented to its namesake, pays tribute to international individuals who have made major contributions to the growth and advancement of hockey in the United States.
Tarasov is widely considered the "father of Russian hockey" and his influence on the game in the United States was, and continues to be, significant. Many of Tarasov's methods were adopted by the leading U.S. coaches in order to get a high level of performance from players.
“Tarasov has had an extremely wide-ranging influence over the game of hockey in the United States as well as in the rest of the world,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “We’re extremely proud to present him with the Gretzky International Award, which is held in the utmost esteem.”
"One only has to watch today's game, played at a high tempo by multitudes of highly skilled and well-trained athletes, for testimony of his impact," said Lou Vairo, head coach of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Team. "He was eager to familiarize coaches with his methods and made many trips to the United States to do so."
In 1946, Tarasov adapted the traditional Russian version of hockey, emphasizing passing and skating skills, as the Soviets soon became dominant in international hockey. His coaching methods emphasized forceful training techniques and tough mental discipline.
Tarasov coached the Soviet National Team from 1958 to 1972, leading the team to nine straight world championships from 1963 to 1971. In addition to 11 European Championships, he also led his country to gold medals at the 1964, 1968 and 1972 Olympics.
Tarasov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1974 and was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in 1997.
He passed away on June 23, 1995, at the age of 76.
Past recipients of the Wayne Gretzky International Award include Herb Brooks (2004), Bobby Hull (2003), Scotty Bowman (2002), Scotty Morrison (2001), the Howe family (2000) and Wayne Gretzky (1999).
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Dinner will honour 2008 inductees Cammi Granato, Brett Hull, Brian Leetch and Mike Richter.