Breaking Sports

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

nhl- The Professor at Work

from The Moscow Times, The Swiss are known for fine clocks, secure banking and pretty mountain lakes. Based on Igor Larionov's experience, they should also be known for the good taste of their sports fans.
Hockey legend Larionov spent the 1992-93 season with the Swiss team HC Lugano. Now that he has hung up his skates and become a full-time wine entrepreneur, he traces the roots of his unlikely career move to the way Swiss fans showed their appreciation.
"Coming out of the locker room, I was greeted by fans and given one, two, three, four bottles of wine," Larionov said.
The fans had plenty to appreciate. Over the course of a hockey career that spanned four decades, Larionov earned a reputation as one of the smartest players in the game, displaying a strategic sense that sent sports writers scrambling for chess metaphors. His Soviet-era career brought him two Olympic gold medals and four World Championships, and his NHL tenure included three Stanley Cup victories with the Detroit Red Wings. Former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman said Larionov had "a sixth sense" on the ice, comparing him -- as many have -- to Wayne Gretzky.
Larionov read obsessively about wine and began consulting with experts. Mike Davis, a Michigan-based wine distributor who is now Larionov's main business partner, remembers the early years of their friendship, when Larionov was playing with the Red on...