Twenty-plus-years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many hockey fans don’t realize how special it was when the USSR began allowing some of their top talent to come to North America to play in the National Hockey League.
Among the biggest names that came over in the late 1980s were members of the so-called “K-L-M Line”: Vladimir Krutov, Igor Larionov and Sergei Makarov. The trio formed one of the most potent offensive lines in hockey history.
Together, they won two Olympic gold medals and several world championships before leaving for the NHL.
Krutov, who tallied 288 goals and 215 assists in 438 games during 12 seasons in the USSR, never made it big in North America, lasting just one season before returning to Europe.
Sadly, he died last week from internal bleeding at the age of 52.
“We lost a great friend, someone with whom all of us would go to war, without any doubt,” said Vladislav Tretyak, the Hall of Fame goalie who is now the Russian ice hockey chief.