NHL Hall of Famer and former Soviet Union hockey superstar Igor Larionov discussed a whole lot in his special, Igor Larionov’s Triple Overtime Radio, airing now on SiriusXM Sports Zone. There was Larionov’s early years playing hockey in the Soviet Union, his move to the Red Army, multiple Olympic gold medals and world championships, his switch to the NHL, ripping beers in Wayne Gretzky’s basement …
Hold up. Direct from Larionov:
Wayne invited the whole unit, all five of us – the green unit – after an exhibition game [to his house ...] I said, “I can ask [head coach Viktor] Tikhinov if he will let us go,” so I go to ask him … He said, “No, the Soviet rules and regulations [say] you can’t travel outside a 40-mile radius from the building you play. [...] I told Wayne and I said, “Well, it’s kind of sad, but what can we do?” But then Walter [Wayne's father] Gretzky knocked on my door and said, “Igor, so what do you think?” I said, “You know what, let me ask Tikhinov one more time. If we invite him to go with us, maybe he’ll let us go.” So I go to Tikhinov with Walter, I said, “Viktor, Mr. Gretzky, father of Wayne, would like to extend an invitation to all five of us, the green unit, yourself, to go to his house to have a dinner with the barbecue.” [Tikhinov said,] “Let me think about it.” So he talked to his stick boy, the KGB guy, and he said, “Yeah, we can.”
A quick aside: As you’ll learn by listening to this incredible story, a member of the Soviet KGB operated undercover as a “stick boy” for many of Larionov’s years with the Soviet national team.
Anyway, as Larionov continued to explain, the players were offered LaBatt Blue by the Gretzky family with dinner. Tikhinov said Larionov and his teammates couldn’t indulge, though, as professional hockey players were only allowed to drink water.
That’s when Wayne’s father hatched a scheme.
Walter said [when they were at his house], “Hey guys, there’s a trophy room in the basement.” So he goes, “You take a trip, one at a time, and there’s some cold beer. You drink it, and come back.” [...] We’re going one after another to the basement to get a beer, have a beer, and come back, and drink water and eat steak. So we had a really nice experience.
Igor Larionov’s Triple Overtime Radio, a SiriusXM series featuring the NHL Hall of Famer describe, in his own words, his days as a Soviet star and his revolutionary struggle for the freedom to play in the United States, debuted Feb. 7 on SiriusXM Sports Zone. Parts three-through-five air this week on SiriusXM Sports Zone, channel 92, leading up to USA vs. Russia in the Sochi Winter Olympics on Feb. 15. You can also listen back to parts one and two on SiriusXM On Demand.
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