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Fetisov to play again, at age 51

by Mike G. Morreale /
Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Viacheslav Fetisov has served in the Russian parliament, was the first chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's athletes committee, is a member of the Kontinental Hockey League board of directors and is president of the KHL's CSKA Moscow.

On Friday night, and due to numerous injuries that have decimated the team's roster, the former Detroit Red Wing and New Jersey Devil will lace on the skates once again when his team, CSKA, hosts to SKA St. Petersburg.

Fetisov, who played with the Devils for six seasons before joining the Red Wings and winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1997 and '98, is 51 years old. He retired from hockey at the end of the 1997-98 campaign following four seasons in Detroit.

When told that Fetisov would be suiting up for his team in the KHL, New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur grinned.

"He's such a competitor, even to this day," Brodeur said. "I remember me and Larry (Robinson) played in his retirement game in Russia (in 2000). Larry made him go wide and he scored the last goal of that game against me. We did it on purpose but Slava still thinks he really took Larry wide and beat me. He was still talking about that at the Hall of Fame. He was saying, 'You see, I still got it; I beat Larry and beat you' "

CSKA coach Sergei Nemchinov has turned to Fetisov in desperate need of a replacement for his injured defenseman Denis Kulyash.

"We acquired two players, (Albert) Leschev and (Nikita) Filatov and they became our leaders at once," Nemchinov told the Russian-Sport Express Daily. "By next game we will reinforce the roster with one more player, since president of the club Viacheslav Fetisov expressed his desire to return to the ice and scow some kind of master-class to our players. He said that he is in good form now."

He'll wear No. 2 -- the same number he wore en route to winning numerous titles with CSKA, for which he played 14 years (1975-89). CSKA currently is sixth in the KHL's Western Conference with 52 points. SKA St. Petersburg is first in the West with 76 points.

If Fetisov does get into the game, he'll become the second-oldest player ever to play at the top level of a major league -- behind Gordie Howe, who returned to the ice at the age of 52.

Fetisov's return begs the question -- will Russian Olympic General Manager Vladislav Tretiak be watching? After all, Fetisov did win two gold medals and one silver in the Olympics, and seven golds, one silver and two bronzes in the World Championships.

Contact Mike Morreale at
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