MOSCOW – Vladimir Krutov, two-time Olympic champion, five-time World Champion and one of the finest players ever to come out of the Soviet Union, died today, Wednesday, in Moscow as a result of gastrorrhagia. He was 52.
A star for a decade with the Soviet national team, Krutov played on a line with Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov, and together with defencemen Vyacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov, they were known as the Green Unit (because, as the top line, they wore green jerseys in practice).
Krutov made his international debut at the 1979 U20, winning a gold medal and repeating the feat a year later. Just weeks after the U20 in 1980, he played for the CCCP Olympic team which won a silver medal, and in 1981 he played at his first senior World Championship, winning gold as well. Later that year, he was again victorious, this time at the 1981 Canada Cup in which the Soviets humbled Canada, 8-1, in the championship game at the Montreal Forum.
Throughout the 1980s the KLM line was dominant in the international game. The Soviets won Olympics gold in 1984 and 1988, and Krutov also won five gold medals at the World Championship. As well, he played in the 1987 Canada Cup which featured a best-of-three finals which many call the best series ever played.
Vladimir Krutov also won 11 Soviet national championships with CSKA Moscow.
Krutov was named to the IIHF World Championship Best Forward twice (1986, 1987) and was selected to the All Star Team on four occasions (1983, 1985, 1986, 1987).
In official international competition (IIHF Worlds, Olympics, Canada Cup) Krutov scored 89 goals, added 75 assists for an astounding 164 points in 123 games.
By the end of the decade, having done everything possible for his country at IIHF events, Krutov decided to give the NHL a try. He joined Vancouver in 1989, but had difficulty adjusting to the culture and schedule of the league. He played 61 NHL games, scoring 11 goals and 23 assists.
He continued with a one-year stint for Zürcher SC in Switzerland where fans have never forgotten his skills and powerful play, and where his son Alexei played from from 2007 to 2011 before transferring to the KHL.
Vladimir Krutov finished his career in Brunflo IK, in one of Sweden’s lower tier leagues and then went into coaching.
Krutov was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2010.