Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Viktor Kuzkin Passes Away

Special thanks to regular reader Pierre for making me aware of this: From IIHF.com's website:

"ZURICH – The international ice hockey community was saddened by the death of Viktor Kuzkin, who died on Wednesday (June 24th, 2008) at the age of 67 near Sochi, Russia. The cause of death was heart failure in relation with a diving accident in the Black Sea."

Originally a forward, Viktor Kuzkin became the star defenseman of Soviet hockey in the 1960s, most often paired with Vitaly Davydov. Those Soviet teams ended up winning three Olympic gold medals (1964, 1968 and 1972) and eight world championship gold medals in 9 tournaments. In 169 international games Kuzkin contributed 18 goals.

In the Soviet top league he helped CSKA Moscow win 12 national titles, contributing 70 goals in 530 league games.

In 2005 Kuzkin was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame for his many contributions to hockey in his lifetime. After nearly 2 decades as a player he became a coach in Japan as well as an assistant coach with CSKA Moscow under legendary head coaches Konstantin Loktev and Viktor Tikhonov.

North Americans will best associate Kuzkin as the Soviet captain of the 1972 Summit Series team that shocked Canadian NHLers.

"As captain, my job was to inspire my teammates both on the ice and off. But in this series that wasn't necessary. Everyone understood we were playing the most important tournament of our lives."

The merited master of sport, Kuzkin, who was said to be an avid diver, died in Sochi, Russia, host of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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