Vladimir Krutov, one of the first Soviet players to skate in the NHL and a member of the famed "KLM" line, has died at the age of 52.
Krutov died Wednesday, according to the Russian Hockey Federation, and no cause of death was given.
The Vancouver Canucks made Krutov a 12th-round pick (No. 238) in the 1986 NHL Draft and he came over to North America for the 1989-90 season. Krutov registered 11 goals and 34 points in 61 games for the Canucks and then played the remainder of his career in Switzerland and Sweden.
His best years came playing for the Soviet national team, where he teamed with linemates and future NHL stars Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov. The trio won Olympic gold in 1984 and 1988 after the heartbreak of losing to the United States' "Miracle On Ice" team at Lake Placid in 1980. At the 1988 Games, he led the Olympics in goals (six), assists (nine) and points (15).
"Volodya was such a dependable and steadfast man that I would have gone anywhere with him -- to war, to espionage, into peril. There are fewer and fewer guys like him in every generation of hockey players," federation president and former Soviet goaltender Vladislav Tretyak told the Sport-Express newspaper.
He won 11 Russian Super League titles, and five World Championship gold medals (1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989). At the 1987 Worlds, he set tournament-highs with seven goals and 14 points in nine games and was named the tournament's best forward. He also won that award at the 1986 tournament.