Sergei Fedorov returns home

After 1,431 NHL games, he joins his brother at Metallurg

26.06.2009
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With open arms: Sergei Fedorov comes home to his motherland. Photo: Jukka Rautio / HHOF-IIHF Images

MAGNITOGORSK, Russia – Sergei Fedorov kept his word and transferred to Russian top club Metallurg Magnitogorsk.

In 2007, Metallurg GM Gennady Velichkin told the Russian media, Fedorov promised to join Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the future when the club owner was at a Columbus game during a business trip. The only question was when it would happen.

The turning point was one month ago when Metallurg signed his younger brother Fedor. The younger Fedorov, 28, left the NHL last autumn after he was cut from the New Jersey Devils in the pre-season camp and played for KHL rival Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk.

Now, his wish, and the wish of their parents, will be fulfilled when Sergei Fedorov turns 40.

“My thoughts were far from Magnitogorsk while I had a contract in North America but when Magnitogorsk signed by brother Fedor, I decided to continue my career with this club,” Sergei Fedorov said to Sport-Express. “I know that this city is hockey-crazy. My brother told me good things about the club. I played in the world’s strongest league for two decades and had a good time but I always wanted to play in the same team with my brother.”

Metallurg confirmed the signing of a two-year contract with Sergei Fedorov. He is expected to arrive for the camp at the end of July and will be among the candidates for Russia’s Olympic camp at the end of August. Winning Olympic gold and the league trophy, the Gagarin Cup, would complete his impressive career.

Sergei Fedorov is Russia’s record player in the National Hockey League with 1431 games including the Stanley Cup playoffs. His 535 goals and 1,355 points are league records for Russians in the NHL.

The 39-year-old was one of the first Soviet players to defect from his native country prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. The last time he played club hockey at home was in 1990 when he was on the roster of CSKA Moscow, which dominated Soviet and European hockey at that time. The same year, when CSKA was playing exhibition games in North America, he quietly left his team’s hotel in Seattle and took the next plane to Detroit.

He played for the Red Wings for 13 years before having stints in Anaheim, Columbus and Washington. He won three Stanley Cups with Detroit (1997, 1998, 2002) and was the first European-trained player to win the Hart Trophy as MVP in 1994.

Legendary coach Scotty Bowman made Fedorov part of the first Russian five-man unit in the NHL with Igor Larionov and Slava Kozlov as the other forwards, and Vyacheslav Fetisov and Vladimir Konstantinov in the defence.

Fedorov also won three World Championships, two with the Soviet national team (1989, 1990) and the 2008 Worlds in Canada in the modern era. In the Olympics, he has yet to win the gold but has won a silver (1998) and a bronze medal (2002).

When Fedorov returns to his motherland, he will see a hockey country that won back pride after two consecutive World Championship titles and a new league where players do not just play for honour and medals, but a league which has also big money involved. Fedorov will reportedly earn about $4 million a year.

MARTIN MERK

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