MOSCOW – Vyacheslav Kozlov returns to Russia after 18 years in the NHL. The 38-year-old forward signed a one-year contract with CSKA Moscow.
Kozlov appeared in 1,182 NHL regular season games for Detroit, Buffalo and Atlanta – third most among Russian players after Sergei Fedorov and Alexei Kovalev. He’s one of 22 Europeans that have played 1,000 or more NHL games.
Kozlov had 356 goals, 497 assists and won two Stanley Cups with Detroit when he was part of the “Russian Five” with Vyacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Igor Larionov and Dmitri Mironov.
Now he’s going back to his native region Moscow. He played for CSKA Moscow for two years, once before transferring to Detroit in the 1991-1992 season and during the 1994 lockout, but spent most of his time in Russia with Khimik Voskresensk in the Moscow region.
Kozlov had his first practice on Wednesday and might play his first KHL game on Friday against Yugra Khanty-Mansysk. His first road trip to the east also includes games in Astana and Omsk.
“I’m very glad to be back so close to my hometown with a very historical hockey team. I will do everything possible to strive for the Gagarin Cup,” Kozlov told Sport-Express
. “I believe that I’m in normal shape and the doctors are satisfied with my condition after the medical examinations. I hope to make my debut for the army team already on Friday.”
The team is in need for help as CSKA is only ninth among eleven teams in the KHL’s Western Conference after eight games.
Kozlov is the fourth Russian NHL star to come back to their motherland this season after the St. Petersburg trio of Maxim Afinogenov, Denis Grebeshkov and Evgeni Nabokov.
Other recent signings of NHL players by European clubs since the NHL camps opened were Slovak forward Marek Svatos (from Colorado to the KHL’s Avangard Omsk); defenceman Lukas Krajicek, who returns home to the Czech Republic to Trinec; German defenceman Christoph Schubert, who transferred from Atlanta to Sweden’s Frölunda; and a trio that signed in the Swiss league with Richard Park from the Islanders to Geneva, Mark Popovic from Atlanta to Lugano, and French netminder Cristobal Huet, who was loaned to Fribourg by Chicago.
for the NHL-Europe transfer list.