Igor Larionov will have to wait until next year.
The highly favored former Sharks forward was one of numerous players eligible for induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame. If selected, Larionov would have been the first player inducted into the Hall of Fame that played in San Jose. However, history would have to wait as Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens received the four spots reserved for the Class of 2007.
During the Hall of Fame Selection Committee’s conference call earlier today, iductees Al MacInnis and Scott Stevens spoke on Larionov’s behalf.
“The Hall of Fame is a tough place to get into,“ said MacInnis. “And with the players that were available to get in this year, it’s a very impressive list. Larionov is a World-class player that will eventually get into the Hockey Hall of Fame.”
Larionov, who played for San Jose from 1993-95, garnered 23 goals and 59 assists in 97 games with San Jose. In his first season in a Sharks uniform, Larionov led San Jose’s historic upset over the Detroit Red Wings as the eighth-seeded Sharks defeated the top-seeded Wings in the 1994 Stanley Cup Western Conference Quarterfinals.
Considered by many to be one of the greatest passers of all-time, Larionov began his career in his native Russia from 1978-89 before transitioning to the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks in 1989. The center spent 16 seasons in the NHL, won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and is credited with playing an instrumental role in breaking down barriers that prevented Soviet players from joining the NHL. Between 1989-2004, Larionov totaled 169 goals and 475 assists in 921 NHL games.
“Igor’s a great individual,” added Scott Stevens. “I had the opportunity to play with him and play against him many times over in Europe and he’s one of the best players I’ve played against and he’s one of the best people I’ve played with.”
On an international level, Larionov centered Vladimir Krutov and Sergei Makarov on the infamous KLM line for the Soviet Union and won two golds (1984 and 88) and one bronze medal (2002) in the Winter Olympics. In the World Championships, Larionov garnered four golds (1982, 83, 86 and 89), one silver (1987) and one bronze (1985).
Other eligible players who didn't make this year’s list included Adam Oates, Doug Gilmour, and Claude Lemieux.
The 2007 Hall of Fame Induction Celebration will be held on Monday, November 12 at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.