Vladimir Nikolaevich Konstantinov
Last team: Detroit Red Wings
Height: 6’0”/183 cm
Weight: 195 lbs/88 kg
Born: March 19, 1967 in Murmansk, RUS
Drafted: Selected by the Detroit Red Wings in 11th round (211st overall) of the 1989 Entry Draft
Strengths: In his prime, Konstantinov was one of few players who would use his physical force to help his team in any situation. Despite contributing valuable offense when needed, Konstantinov will always be known as one of the most punishing and selfless defensemen to play hockey.
Weaknesses: Some of Konstantinov’s dirty play led to his nickname “Bad Vlad” as he accumulated some costly penalty minutes for his team.
Biography: Born in the Arctic port city of Murmansk, Konstantinov moved to Moscow at the age of 16 to enrol in the Central Red Army’s Olympic School. With hard work, he joined the Soviet Union’s leading hockey team, CSKA, at the age of 17. Despite being a stay-at-home defenseman, Konstantinov also developed his offensive game with the Red Army club. In a new era when more and more Russian players were moving to North America, Konstantinov saw the NHL as a natural fit where he could freely use his physical skills. He first caught attention of NHL clubs at the 1987 World Junior Championship, where he demonstrated his fighting skills during the infamous brawl between the entire Soviet and Canadian teams. Konstantinov was also on three gold-medal World Championship teams. Drafted by Detroit, Vladimir made a strong impact in his first season and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team of 1992. His hard-hitting and often-penalized play gained him a reputation as one of the most feared yet respected defenseman in the league. During the 1994 NHL lockout, Konstantinov briefly played for Wedemark in Germany, where he averaged 2 points per game. In 1995-96, Konstantinov’s excellent +60 plus/minus campaign was one of the reasons for Detroit’s record-breaking season. Konstantinov clearly found his niche playing as part of the “Russian Five” unit with Sergei Fedorov, Slava Kozlov, Igor Larionov, and Slava Fetisov (his partner on defense). In 1997, “The Vladinator” was the runner-up in voting for the Norris Trophy – given to the best defenseman in the NHL. On Friday, June 13, 1997 – six days after the Wings won their first Stanley cup in 42 years – Konstantinov, Fetisov and team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov were riding in a limousine whose driver fell asleep at the wheel and led to a serious crash. Fetisov received minor injuries, but Konstantinov and Mnatsakanov were less fortunate; both suffered severe head injuries and were in a coma for weeks. Vladimir was confined to a wheelchair and had to re-learn basic movement skills. The support from his team was unconditional. Teammates brought him the Stanley Cup, spent lots of time with Vladimir, and won another Stanley Cup in 1998. Upon receiving the Cup, team captain Steve Yzerman immediately placed the prize on Konstantinov’s lap. In a wheelchair, Konstantinov did a victory lap with his teammates. Vladimir knew what was happening and his smile showed that he was having a good time. In 2002, when the Wings became champions again, Konstantinov was there to lift the Cup too. Today, Vladimir retains his own locker in the Red Wings’ dressing room. After years of difficulty walking and communicating, Konstantinov has been making good progress. He is no longer bound to the wheelchair for getting around and has made numerous appearances at Red Wings and NHL events.
|1994-95||ESC Wedemark (DEL-2)||15||13||17||30||51|
|Totals||NHL Reg. Season||446||47||128||175||+185||838|