Venjamin Alexandrov

Playing on the second great troika with Alexander Almetev and Konstantin Loktev, Venjamin Alexandrov was considered the greatest Soviet player of his time.

Alexandrov drew some incredible comparisons. He was dubbed "Bobrov 2" in Russia, after the first great Soviet star, Vsevolod Bobrov. The great Russian coach Anatoli Tarasov had another comparison though - Montreal Canadiens star Maurice "Rocket" Richard.

Tarasov once had a conversation with the Rocket, where Richard said his secret to success was to not worry about the two or three burly defensemen that are about to crush him as he shoots on goal. He concentrates only on finding the open spot in the net, and takes whatever punishment the other team can dish out. After all, as long as Richard scored, he would be handing out the ultimate punishment. Tarasov instantly thought of his own Alexandrov when Richard had said this.

"I think that our Alexandrov, by his style of game, by his ability to keep a level head even in the most explosive situations, looks something like Maurice Richard, the great master of attack," said Tarasov in his book Road to Olympus.

Alexandrov was the left wing on his troika. He was destined for hockey stardom as he was groomed from an early age. He was brought up and trained as a youngster through the Central Army hockey school. When he was in his prime he was an electrifying star that had crowds cheering for him not only in Russia, but in Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Finland. Even in Canada and the US, he was the closest thing to a household Soviet name in the 1960s.

Alexandrov's first appearance with the Soviet national team came at Bobrov's absence. With Bobrov injured in 1955, it was 18 year old Alexandrov who assumed the top left wing sot on the line with Viktor Shuvalov and Yevgeny Babich. He was said to have slid into the line with great maturity, and, according to the book Kings Of The Ice, had "an elegant style that closely resembled that of the player he had replaced."

Upon Bobrov's return Alexandrov struggled to find regular linemates, but eventually settled in with Konstantin Loktev on right wing and later Alexander Almetov at center. The trio would dominate international hockey in the 1960s.

In 1966 both Loktev and Almetov retired, leaving Alexandrov to struggle with new line combinations for three seasons. "The Lone Ranger" as he was nicknamed was said to have become increasingly more disillusioned with hockey as he continued on his own. He seemed impatient with the following generation of players, such as Boris Mikhailov and Vladimir Petrov, who he teamed with late in his career. Unfortunately, the great hockey master Alexandrov was lost without the genuine partnership and trust he had shared with Loktev and Almetov.

Alexandrov won six world championship titles. In 11 world championships, where he also won 3 silver and 2 bronze, he totalled 104 points. He also captured Olympic gold in 1964 and 1968, as well as a bronze in 1960.

Venjamin Alexandrov died on Nov 12, 1991.

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