Vladimir Shadrin passes away
by Andy Potts|27 AUG 2021
Vladimir Shadrin during a game of the Soviet national team in 1975.
photo: Yuri Somov / RIA Novosti
Soviet hockey legend Vladimir Shadrin has died at the age of 73, it was reported on Thursday evening in Moscow.

According to news agency TASS quoting former teammate Vyacheslav Starshinov, Shadrin was in hospital, had cancer and died after a Covid-19 infection.

Shadrin was a two-time Olympic Champion and five-time World Champion on the great USSR team of the 1970s. He also helped his club, Spartak Moscow, break CSKA’s grip on the Soviet championship, enjoying domestic success in 1967, 1969 and 1976. In total, he scored 45 goals in 71 Olympic and World Championship games, plus 213 goals in 445 games in the Soviet league. In the 1972 Summit Series, Shadrin was second in scoring on the Soviet team that shocked Canada’s NHLers in an epoch-defining hockey clash.

In addition to his compelling partnership with Alexander Yakushev – a combination that illuminated the hockey world in the early 70s – Shadrin was also remembered as a player with a vital role in the 1976 Olympic triumph in Innsbruck. In a crunch game against Czechoslovakia, the Red Machine was spluttering: down 0-2, and facing a full two minutes of 3-on-5 penalty kill. It was time for a centre to step up and take charge, and Shadrin did just that. Not only did he win all three of his face-offs during the PK, he then popped up with the Soviet’s first goal once the teams were back at full strength.

Coaching guru Anatoli Tarasov, who was on the USSR staff when Shadrin was called up to the national team, defined the personal and professional qualities that made the forward an all-time great.

“He was incredibly useful both for Spartak and the national team,” Tarasov said. “First and foremost, we have to look at Shadrin’s brilliantly developed sense of the pass. He gave his partners the puck subtly and skilfully, and most of all, at the right time – precisely in line with their high-speed moves.

“He valued the puck and it was rare that Shadrin’s stick sent it to an opponent. It must be said that he was fluent in the art of passing, but he also mastered the game’s other techniques – shooting, stick-handling, checking. Shadrin’s game was always consistent. He was a cultured individual who never needed to be forced into practice. Nobody needed to worry about Vladimir’s behaviour off the ice – he was a man who valued his reputation.”

In club hockey, Shadrin was indelibly associated with Spartak Moscow, the club where he learned the game and played almost his entire pro career from 1965-1979. He then spent four seasons playing in Japan with Oji Seishi. After returning to Russia, he worked as a coach with the club, enjoying most success with the junior program.
The Red-and-Whites’ Vyacheslav Starshinov, who played with Shadrin on Spartak’s title-winning teams, paid tribute to a man he called a ‘great and true friend’.

“He was a wonderful person who knew his job perfectly,” Starshinov told the TASS news agency. “You could follow him through fire and flood. It’s a great loss.

“As players, we fulfilled the same role, we were both centres. I was older than him, so I tried to set an example. We had such a partnership that we were able to beat CSKA, which at that time was almost invincible. We trusted each other, helped each other.”

Another Soviet hockey legend, Boris Mikhailov, also paid tribute to a former comrade. “He was a true Spartak man to the tips of his fingers,” Mikhailov told Sport-Express.

“He was a Spartak man all his life, and never hesitated to talk about it. Having grown up with the club, he wore the red-and-white jersey with pride and throughout his life he spoke with pride about his connections with that club.

“He was a wonderful player, in my view he was often underrated. He was one of the best centres of his era, anywhere in the world. And he was smart off the ice as well, he graduated from the Institute of Oil and Gas in Moscow.

“Volodya was just a good guy. I don’t remember him ever being involved in any dispute with anyone, causing anyone problems. He was an approachable, even-handed, highly disciplined man.”