Valeri Borisovich Kharlamov (Russian: Валерий
Борисович Харламов, IPA: [vɐˈlʲerʲɪj
bɐˈrʲisəvʲɪtɕ xɐrˈɫaməf]; 14 January 1948 – 27
August 1981) was an ice hockey forward who played for CSKA
the Soviet League from 1967 until his death in 1981. Although small in
stature, Kharlamov was speedy, intelligent and skilled and a dominant
player, being named the
Soviet Championship League most valuable
player in 1972 and 1973. An offensive player, who was considered very
creative and intelligent on the ice, he also led the league in scoring
in 1972. He was also a gifted skater who was able to make plays at top
speed. Kharlamov was considered one of the best players of his era, as
well as one of the greatest players of all time.
In international play, Kharlamov represented the
Soviet Union at 11
World Championships, winning 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze. He
participated in three Olympics, 1972, 1976 and 1980, finishing with
two gold medals and a silver, and participated in the 1972 Summit
Series against Canada. He spent most of his career playing on a line
with Vladimir Petrov and Boris Mikhailov, and this trio is considered
one of the best in the history of hockey.
Kharlamov's career was marred by two car accidents, in 1976 and a
fatal one in 1981. After his death, Kharlamov was elected to the
International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, the Hockey Hall of
Fame, the Russian
Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame and was selected as one of the
forwards on the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team. The
Kharlamov Trophy is
presented annually to the best Russian hockey player in the NHL, as
chosen by his peers. The
Kharlamov Cup is presented to the champion of
Minor Hockey League
Minor Hockey League playoffs, and the Kontinental Hockey League
named one of their four divisions after him.
1 Early life
2 Playing career
2.1 Soviet League
3 International play
3.1 World Championships
3.3 Summit Series
6 Playing style
7 Personal life
8 Career statistics
8.1 Regular season
8.2 International play
9 Awards and honours
Soviet Union and Russia
11 External links
Kharlamov was born in
Moscow to Boris and Begonita Kharlamov. Boris
was a mechanic at a factory, Kommunar, while Begonita worked with
Aeroflot. Begoñita, who was born Carmen Orive Abad, was Basque and
originally from Bilbao, Spain, but moved to the
Soviet Union in 1937
as a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. Kharlamov's parents were
factory workers from Moscow. He was named after Valery Chkalov, a
pioneering Soviet pilot. He also had a younger sister, Tatiana. In
1956, when he was 8-years-old, Kharlamov moved to Spain with his
mother, though they both returned to the
Soviet Union after several
months. Due to his mother's heritage, Kharlamov would be nicknamed
"The Spaniard" throughout his career.
At age 5 Kharlamov first started to skate, fastening his father's
blades onto his own shoes. He was trained by Boris, who had played
hockey himself. However Kharlamov, who enjoyed playing football as
well, was quite sickly as a youth; in 1961 he was diagnosed with
rheumatic fever and doctors ordered him to cease any physical
activity, and spent several months in hospital, though he ultimately
recovered with no apparent cause nor lingering effects.
Kharlamov successfully tried-out for CSKA
Moscow when he was 12, and
joined their sports school. He joined the senior team for the
1967–68 season, and made his debut with CSKA on 22 October 1967
against HC Sibir. However Anatoli Tarasov, the coach of the team,
felt Kharlamov was not good enough for the team so after 15 matches
with CSKA sent Kharlamov to join Zvezda Chebarkul, who played in the
third division. He would lead the team in scoring with 34 goals in 32
The following season Kharlamov was brought back to CSKA full-time. In
42 games he scored 37 goals and had 12 assists and finished third in
the league in scoring with 49 points; it was during a match in October
1968 that he was first put on a line with Vladimir Petrov and Boris
Mikhailov; The three of them would play together for the next
several years both with CSKA and internationally, forming one of the
most famous lines in hockey history. In the off-season he and his
linemates Petrov and Mikhailov were awarded the title of Merited
Master of Sport in recognition of winning an international tournament
(which would become the Izvestia Cup. Kharlamov scored a further
33 goals in 1969–70, and had placed fifth overall in points with 43,
as CSKA won the league championship. He led the league in scoring for
the first time in 1970–71 with 40 goals and finished second overall
in scoring with 52, and CSKA repeated as champions.
Although Kharlamov never played in North America, he was drafted by
Calgary Broncos of the World Hockey Association, along with Soviet
teammates Petrov and
Alexander Maltsev in early 1972.
1980 Lake Placid
1973 Soviet Union
1975 West Germany
1979 Soviet Union
Kharlamov's career in Soviet hockey was well established by the time
he came to greater attention through his play in international hockey.
His first tournament for the
Soviet Union was the 1969 World
Championship, where he helped the team capture the gold medal.
Kharlamov was a fixture on the Soviet national team roster for the
next decade. He played in eleven World Championships in total,
capturing 8 gold medals, 2 silvers and 1 bronze. He was named to
the tournament All-Star team four times (1971, 1972, 1973, and
1976). He played a total of 105 games in the World Championships,
scoring 74 goals and adding 82 assists (156 points).
Soviet Union was the dominant force in international hockey during
the 1970s, and Kharlamov played a big part in their gold medal
victories at the 1972 and 1976 Winter Olympics. In five games during
the 1972 tournament, Kharlamov scored nine goals and added seven
assists. He captured his second gold medal with the Soviet Union
in 1976, contributing three goals and six assists. Kharlamov was also
part of the silver medal winning Soviet team at the 1980 Winter
Olympics. Their only loss at the Olympics was to the American squad, a
game memorialized as the Miracle on Ice. Kharlamov finished the
tournament with three goals and eight assists. When his Olympic
career was complete, Kharlamov had two gold medals and one silver. He
had scored 14 goals and added 22 assists for 36 points in 22 career
games. The 1980 Olympics would be Kharlamov's last games with the
Soviet National Team. He never had the chance to represent his country
Canada Cup play. He missed the 1976
Canada Cup due to the injuries
he sustained in his first major car accident. Kharlamov was left off
the roster for the 1981
Canada Cup just prior to his fatal car
accident, because Tikhonov felt he was too old and not in good enough
shape for the team. According to his mother-in-law, Kharlamov had
been planning to announce his retirement after playing in the 1981
tournament. In 438 national championship matches, he scored 293
goal and stood for 214 assists, a total of 507 points.
As World Championships were commonly played in Europe, and National
Hockey League (NHL) players were not allowed to participate in the
Olympics either, Kharlamov and his teammates were still a somewhat
unknown quantity when the 1972
Summit Series was played. The eight
game series, with four games played in Canada, and four in the Soviet
Union was one of the first opportunities for the two countries to pit
their best hockey players against each other. Most pundits thought
Canada would win convincingly.
In the first game of the series, the
Soviet Union stunned Canada with
a 7–3 victory. Kharlamov scored two goals on
Ken Dryden during the
second period, and was named the game's Most Valuable Player.
Fresh observers of Kharlamov's play were universally impressed. Summit
Serge Savard ranked him as one of the top 5 players
of all time. Team Canada head coach
Harry Sinden would later say of
Kharlamov, "He had the skill and the ability of any player in the NHL
at the time."
In the sixth game of the series,
Bobby Clarke slashed Kharlamov
intentionally, fracturing a bone in his ankle. He would miss the
seventh game of the series, and returned to the lineup for the final
game of the series, but at much reduced effectiveness. At the time,
many felt the slash was intentional. Assistant coach John Ferguson
would later say "I called (Bobby) Clarke over to the bench, looked
over at Kharlamov and said, 'I think he needs a tap on the
ankle'." As for Kharlamov himself, he had little doubt that an
attempt had been made to limit his effectiveness, "I'm convinced that
Bobby Clarke was given the job of taking me out of the game."
Kharlamov's injury, and his diminished play in the aftermath have been
regarded as a turning point for the series in Canada's favour, who won
the series in the eighth and final game.
Two years later Kharlamov was in the Soviet lineup again during the
1974 Summit Series, playing against the best Canadian players from the
World Hockey Association. The Soviets were victorious in this series,
with four wins, one loss and three ties. Kharlamov scored two goals
and added six assists in the series.
Roadside memorial to Valeri Kharlamov, near the site of his fatal
Kharlamov was still active with CSKA when he was killed in a car
accident on 27 August 1981. Prior to the accident, Kharlamov had
been informed that he would not be a member of the Soviet team playing
in the 1981 Canada Cup. Coach Viktor Tikhonov said that Kharlamov
was left off the team over concerns about his conditioning. Irina,
Kharlamov's wife, was driving back to
Moscow from the family's cottage
when she lost control and crossed into opposing traffic, hitting a
truck head-on. Irina did not have a driver's licence at the time of
the crash. When the bodies were recovered, Kharlamov was reaching over
from his seat, holding onto the steering wheel. Irina's cousin was
also killed. Fans lined the streets during his funeral procession
in Moscow, and they filed past his casket which rested at centre ice
of CSKA's arena. Near the scene of the crash, a memorial stone in
the shape of a hockey puck is inscribed, "The star of Russian hockey
Valeri Kharlamov in Moscow
After his death, Kharlamov's teammates with CSKA decided that no one
at any level of the organization would wear Kharlamov's #17 sweater,
until his son Alexander was old enough to wear it. Alexander wore
#17 until he was a teenager, but later switched to #22, feeling that
the expectations that went along with his father's sweater number were
too great. When he found himself playing for Tikhonov with the
Central Red Army club in 1992, the decision was taken away from him,
and he was issued the #17 sweater. After initially being reluctant,
Alexander said "Now I am used to it. I felt an additional burden on my
shoulders. But now I don't feel anything like that." The #17 is not
worn by any member of the Russian national team at senior
Ilya Kovalchuk who usually wears #17
in honour of Kharlamov, his father's favorite player, dons the
reverse #71 for international play.
In his memory,
Sovetsky Sport established the
Kharlamov Trophy in
2002; it is awarded annually to the best Russian player in the
National Hockey League, as selected by the Russian players in the
league. The annual winner of the playoffs in Russia's Junior
Hockey League is awarded the Kharlamov Cup. The trophy features a
figure modeled after Kharlamov at the top. One of the divisions in
the Eastern Conference of the
Kontinental Hockey League
Kontinental Hockey League is named in
his honor as well. In 2013, director Nikolay Lebedev released the
biopic "Legend No 17", with
Danila Kozlovsky portraying Kharlamov for
most of the film. "Legend No 17" was nominated for 11 Golden Eagle
Awards in 2013, and captured 6 of them, including Best Screenplay.
The movie has been described as a personal favourite of Vladimir
Kharlamov was posthumously inducted into the International Ice Hockey
Federation (IIHF) Hall of Fame in 1998. The Milestone Award is
given by the
IIHF Hall of Fame to teams that have made significant
contributions to international hockey. In 2012, Kharlamov's 1972
Soviet Union team was given this honor. To celebrate
the 100th anniversary of the IIHF in 2008, a panel of experts named
Kharlamov to the Centennial All-Star Team, along with 3 other Soviet
stars, Vladislav Tretiak,
Viacheslav Fetisov and Sergei Makarov.
Kharlamov was inducted into the
Hockey Hall of Fame
Hockey Hall of Fame in 2005. His
induction was met with praise from one of the players who idolized
him, Ilya Kovalchuk, who said "He should have been there many years
ago. I think he was one of the best players in the world."
Kharlamov was the second Soviet trained player, after Tretiak, to be
inducted into the Hall of Fame. Upon hearing the news of his father's
Alexander Kharlamov said "I want to say thank you for
remembering my father." In 2014, Kharlamov was part of the
inaugural class inducted into the Russian Hockey Hall of Fame.
Kharlamov was a gifted offensive player. During his prime, he was one
of the dominant players in Soviet hockey, and he maintained this
reputation during international tournaments. Kharlamov loved the
creative opportunities his sport provided saying "I like to score
beautiful goals." Some compared Kharlamov's play to Wayne Gretzky,
in the sense that their overall play was greater than their individual
skills, such as skating or shooting would indicate. He was very
popular with his fans and teammates.
Kharlamov and Irina had two children, a son, Alexander, commonly known
as "Sasha" and a daughter, Bugonita. Valeri married Irina in 1975,
after Alexander was born. At that time Kharlamov was unaware he had a
son, until he received a phone call from Irina telling him he was the
baby's father. After their parents' death, the children went to
live with their maternal grandmother in Moscow. Alexander was
only 5 years old when his father died, and does not remember him well,
although he has seen recordings of his games. Alexander would also
become an ice hockey player, and was selected fifteenth overall by the
Washington Capitals in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, though he never
played in the NHL, playing in the North American minor leagues and
back in Russia before retiring in 2004. Alexander's son is named
Valeri, after his grandfather, although his sport of choice is soccer,
rather than hockey. After his death, Kharlamov was buried in the
Kuntsevo Cemetery in the
Kuntsevo District of Moscow.
World Championship Totals
Awards and honours
Soviet Union and Russia
Merited Master of Sport
Soviet League Player of the Year
Russian Hockey Hall of Fame
World Ice Hockey Championships
World Ice Hockey Championships All-Star Team
1972, 1973, 1976
IIHF Hall of Fame
IIHF Centennial All-Star Team
Hockey Hall of Fame
^ Martin, Lawrence (1990). The Red Machine: The Soviet Quest to
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Saturday Night. 110. pp. 65–67.
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Summit Series 40th anniversary: Clarke's
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Wikimedia Commons has media related to Valeri Kharlamov.
Biographical information and career statistics from
Eliteprospects.com, or Eurohockey.com,
or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The
Internet Hockey Database
Awards and achievements
Soviet Scoring Champion
IIHF Centennial All-Star Team
Vladislav Tretiak (goaltender)
Börje Salming (defencemen)
Sergei Makarov (wingers)
Wayne Gretzky (centre)