Soviet ice hockey legend Yakushev to be inducted into Hall of Fame in Toronto

Soviet ice hockey legend Yakushev to be inducted into Hall of Fame in Toronto Soviet ice hockey star Alexander Yakushev will be inducted into the Hall of Fame in Toronto on Monday, becoming the eighth Russian player to be represented at the shrine to the sport’s greatest players.

The 71-year-old will become the first non-NHL player to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame since the late Valeri Kharlamov back in 2005. Appearing alongside better-known global stars Kharlamov, Vladimir Petrov and Boris Mikhailov, Yakushev played a crucial role in the legendary 1972 Summit Series against Canada, becoming the top points scorer in the Soviet team with seven goals and 11 points in total.

“I didn‘t know of Yakkie [Yakushev] until that first game in Montreal on September second,” Canadian legend Phil Esposito , recalling his first encounter with Yakushev during the historic 1972 series.

“He was number 15, the guy who scored their seventh goal in our 7-3 loss, and he was the one guy I was afraid of when we were on the ice. It wasn‘t [Valeri] Kharlamov or any of those other guys, it was Yakkie.”

“He was big and strong, 6ft 3in, 205lbs. My brother Tony (a Team Canada goalie) said he shot the puck as hard as Bobby Hull and when it hit him, it hurt,” he added.

The backbone of the Soviet hockey team was formed of the ‘Armymen’ from CSKA, but despite playing for rivals Spartak, Yakushev managed to seal his place in the national team, competing at all major tournaments, including the Olympic Games and the Summit Series against Canada.

Together with the Red Machine, as the Soviet team was dubbed, Yakushev claimed two Olympic gold medals and added seven world titles to his name.

A member of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee, Igor Larionov, who nominated Yakushev for the induction, said it was “a tremendous sign of respect for Russian hockey.”

Five other players will be inducted along with Yakushev, including the incumbent NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, legendary Canadian goalkeeper Martin Brodeur, Canadian forward Martin St. Louis, four-time Olympic champion Jayna Hefford and the NHL’s first black player, Willie O‘Ree.