MOSCOW – Former NHL and Olympic star Slava Fetisov is coming out of retirement at age 51 to play for CSKA Moscow in a competitive game in the Continental Hockey League on Friday.
Fetisov ended his professional career in 1998 at age 40, and went on to become a lawmaker with Federation Council and president of CSKA.
When the club needed another defender after Denis Kulyash was injured, coach Sergei Nemchinov turned to the front office for help. Rather than finding a short-term replacement, though, one of the best defencemen Russia ever produced agreed to fill in.
“We urgently need one more defender,” Nemchinov said. “Fetisov practises constantly and has agreed to help the team. We just need to settle some legal procedures.”
It won’t be the first time that Fetisov played for the Russian club. He began his career with CSKA in 1978 and played through the 1988-89 season, when he signed with the New Jersey Devils. Fetisov went on to win Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998.
Fetisov is one of the most decorated players in international hockey, helping his country win gold medals at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo and the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. He was also on the team that won silver in 1980 at Lake Placid, when the United States shocked the USSR in the game dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.”
Fetisov also won seven gold medals, one silver and two bronzes at the world championships, and served as head coach of the Russian national team that won bronze at the 2002 Olympics.
Fetisov will be the first Russian ice hockey player to play at age 51, although playing at that age is not unprecedented. Gordie Howe played the entire season for the Hartford Whalers at 51, scoring 15 goals with 26 assists during the 1979-80 NHL season.