The 40-year-old played in the KHL for the entire 13-year history of the league during which time he recorded 756 points in 685 regular-season games and another 172 points in 157 playoff games. All of these are KHL records. Additionally, his 48 goals and 85 points in 2016-17 are also records for one season of play.
Although he was drafted a distant 263rd by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002, Mozyakin never ventured to North America to play in the NHL. It wasn’t for a lack of trying to get him to come over, but Mozyakin rejected all of the Blue Jackets’ overtures to remain home and play where he was comfortable.
Indeed, he is considered the finest player of the modern era never to have played in the NHL. He won the Gagarin Cup twice with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in 2014 and 2016, the team he captained for the final eight years of his career.
Mozyakin first represented his country at the 2006 World Championship, finishing fifth, but two years later he and his Russian teammates won gold in Quebec City during the IIHF’s centennial season. Russia repeated as champions a year later, defeating Canada again in the gold-medal game. Playing in his third straight WM in 2010, he helped Russia win a silver medal.
In 2015, Mozyakin led the team in scoring with 12 points at the World Championship in Prague, taking home the silver medal. He also won bronze at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds, but the crowning glory of his international career came in PyeongChang, where, at age 37, he helped the Olympic Athletes from Russia beat all comers to claim gold. He scored one goal in that event, that during an 8-2 preliminary round victory over Slovenia.
At home, though, Mozyakin was a legend. In truth, he came to Canada in 1999 and played for Val d’Or in the Quebec junior league, but after four games he returned to Russia and never looked back. The Yaroslavl native started his pro career in 2002 with CSKA Moscow in the old Russian league, and when the KHL was formed he played with Mytishchi, the team he had played the two previous seasons with in the old league. After three years, he moved to Metallurg, and that is where he played the remainder of his career.
Mozyakin played in all 12 KHL All-Star Games during his career and led the league in scoring six times—2008-09, 2009-10, 2012-13, 2013-14, 2015-16, and 2016-17. He was named league MVP four times, and his teams never missed qualifying for the playoffs during his exceptional career.