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NHL great Slava Fetisov returns to action at age of 51

Slava Fetisov
Fetisov's much-heralded return ended in defeat

Former NHL star turned politician Slava Fetisov has played in a top-level ice hockey match for his old team CSKA Moscow - at the age of 51.

The defenseman featured in Moscow's 3-2 defeat by SKA St Petersburg in a Continental Hockey League game.

"It is a very good game," Fetisov told TV cameras during the first interval. "Both teams are playing at maximum speed. The game is very intense."

Fetisov won two Stanley Cups with the Detroit Red Wings and retired in 1998.

He ended his professional career aged 40 after securing a second straight Stanley Cup victory with Detroit.

The former Soviet Union captain is now a member of the Russian parliament's upper house and president of CSKA, where he began his career.

CSKA coach Sergei Nemchinov called on Fetisov after defender Denis Kulyash was injured ahead of Friday's game.

Some critics have dismissed Fetisov's return as a publicity stunt and his return led the news on Russia's state television channels throughout the day on Friday.

"It's a super move for CSKA," said team captain Konstantin Korneyev in Russian newspaper Sovetsky Sport.

"I can't even imagine how much the interest in our team will grow. The fans will go out of their minds."

Earlier Darius Kasparaitis, another NHL veteran defender who now plays for SKA St. Petersburg, told the Sovetsky Sport newspaper that Fetisov's return would produce a wonderful "show on ice."

But he said SKA, which leads the league's western division, will play just as aggressively against Fetisov.

"Our team is full of angry guys," said Kasparaitis. "We won't spare our rival on the ice no matter who he is."

Fetisov played for CSKA Moscow for 14 years from 1975 to 1989, before defecting to the NHL.

He won two Olympic golds, seven World Championship titles, and coached Russia to bronze at the 2002 Olympics.

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see also
NHL fixtures/results/standings
04 May 06 |  Ice Hockey
British ice hockey results
13 Oct 05 |  Ice Hockey

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