Larionov getting anxious for big Hall moment

November, 4, 2008
11/04/08
9:38
AM ET
I had a long chat with Igor Larionov yesterday, an interview that will serve as the backbone of a feature running later this week to set up his Hockey Hall of Fame induction next Monday (Scott Burnside will have a piece on Glenn Anderson).

At the end of the phone call, I couldn't resist asking Larionov, one of the classiest hockey guys I've been around, whether he thought his induction next weekend could be somewhat clouded with his current involvement in the KHL.

Larionov sits on the board of directors for the new Russian league and is director of hockey operations for the team in St. Petersburg. Now, I'm usually the first to remind people that it's not the NHL Hall of Fame but the Hockey Hall of Fame, but the fact remains this is a big party largely dominated by the NHL family every November.

The NHL is none too happy with the KHL, especially after the league allowed Ufa Salavat Yulayev to sign Alexander Radulov from Nashville despite the fact he had a valid NHL contract with the Predators. The Russians have refused to sign a new player-transfer agreement with the NHL.

So, given all that, Larionov is ready for anything.

"It's OK. I'm ready to face any questions in Toronto," he told ESPN.com. "I can be candid with anybody to express my feelings and the future of the league."

In fact, KHL president Alexei Medvedev is slated to be on hand. Maybe he'll get a seat near NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.

In the meantime, Larionov is starting to get anxious for the big day. There's no bigger honor in the game.

"It's like waiting for the big game. You have to be ready," said Larionov. "I'm looking forward to being part of this ceremony. It's very hard to imagine how emotional it's going to be. It's a huge, huge honor for me. I'm just happy to be recognized. I'm getting a little nervous just thinking about the weekend."

Manhattan Markus
Markus Naslund is finding his way with the New York Rangers, especially of late with seven points in six games as he familiarizes himself his new team.

"It's definitely a transition when you've been in one place for such a long time," the former Vancouver captain told ESPN.com. "But I'm starting to learn what I need to do to be successful. And I'm playing with a great bunch of guys. It's a good team. We're rolling four lines a lot of times and we're winning."

He's got 11 points (4-7) in 14 games and should be a good bet for a 60- to 70-point season. He also feels refreshed. After 12 seasons in Vancouver, the 35-year-old Swede almost forgot how less taxing travel is in the Eastern Conference.

"I started out in Pittsburgh, but it was such a long time ago that I almost forgot about it," said Naslund, who signed a two-year, $8 million deal with the Rangers. "It's definitely a big difference. I think it's going to help down the road. I don't think you get as tired when you don't have to go through time zones and have the long flights."

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