08/21/1998 11:18:03 Ice hockey-Fetisov to play his last game
By Gennady Fyodorov
MOSCOW, Aug 21 (Reuters) - After a brilliant ice hockey
career spanning more than two decades, Vyacheslav Fetisov is
ready to hang up his skates.
The 40-year-old defenceman, who won numerous world, European
and Olympic titles for the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and
80s and two consecutive Stanley Cups with the NHL's Detroit Red
Wings, last month announced his retirement as a player to become
an assistant coach with the New Jersey Devils.
On Saturday, a dozen or so Soviet veterans will take on the
Russian All-Stars, made up primarily of players from North
American professional leagues, to pay tribute to Fetisov in his
official farewell game.
"I didn't know that it would be so hard to say goodbye to
hockey," Fetisov said this week in Moscow, where the former
Soviet captain is participating in his last competition -- the
annual pre-season Spartak Cup.
"But sooner or later the time has come for me to finish it
off where I started, here in Moscow."
Last month Fetisov turned down a Red Wings offer to play one
more year as a professional and opted to start a career as a
"I'll have enough time to think if this is what I really
want," he said referring to his three-year contract with New
"If this doesn't suit me or if I'm not good enough I will
immediately quit coaching and start something else."
Fetisov, who also has a business relationship with Russia
and Vancouver Canucks player Pavel Bure, did not rule out a
political career in Russia in the near future.
But he said: "All I can say right now is that in a couple of
weeks I'll be going back to America to start the training camp
working for the Devils. Anything else is only a possibility."
Fetisov believes he did everything as a player but described
his decision as a tough one.
He played nine of his 22 seasons in the NHL and had two
goals and 12 assists in 58 games last season.
Fetisov was captain of Russia's powerful Central Red Army
He was drafted by the Devils in 1983 but was unable to join
the team until the 1989-90 season.
By the time he went to the NHL, Fetisov had already won a
reputation as one of the sport's great players. He won the Gold
Stick Award as Europe's top player three times and was bestowed
the "Honored Masters of Sport" award, the Russian equivalent to
the Hockey Hall of Fame.
He was also a member of the 1980, 1984 and 1988 Olympic
teams for the Soviet Union, winning a silver medal, then two
In his 546-game NHL career, Fetisov compiled 36 goals and
192 assists for 228 points.