Alexei Gusarov

Alexei Gusarov was 26 years old when he came to the National Hockey League. The long time member of t he Soviet Red Army and USSR national team found an immediate match on the Quebec Nordiques blue line - Adam Foote.

"I don't think there's another Goose out there," Foote said. "I think he was really undervalued. You go back to the one championship this team has, and he was a big part of it. I think even then, he didn't get enough credit.

"That's another part of Goose's character, though. He kept things quiet. He stayed out of everything and just showed up to play. I don't think Colorado fans saw him in his true prime, and I owe a lot to him."

The two seemingly could not have been more different. Foote was rough and tumble, a stalwart defender. Gusarov was an offensive dman in Russia, but in the NHL he almost instantly became a skilled shutdown rearguard. Using his strong skating skills, long reach and good instincts he became a regular penalty killer and shutdown man. This despite a non-existent physical game and a tendency to over-commit positionally.

Gusarov's game deteriorated by the end of 1990s, but he had found a soft spot in the hearts of Colorado (the Nordiques relocated to Denver mid-decade) hockey fans.

In 607 career games, Gusarov scored 39 goals, 128 assists for 167 points. He retired as one of the few members of the Triple Gold Club, having won the 1989 IIHF World Championship, the 1996 Stanley Cup, and the 1988 Olympic gold medal.


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