|Nickname(s)||The Devil Killer|
|6 ft 2 in (0 m)|
196 lb (89 kg)
|Ak Bars Kazan|
Krylya Sovetov Moscow
|Born||February 16 1977,|
Moscow, Russian SFSR, USSR
|NHL Draft||Round 1, Pick 24, 1995|
|Pro Career||1993 – present|
Playing career[edit | edit source]
Aleksey Morozov was drafted in the first round, 24th overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. After being drafted, he remained in Russia and didn't join the Penguins until the 1997–98 NHL season. Aleksey began his career much like Pittsburgh legend Mario Lemieux, scoring on his first shot on his first shift of his first game as a Penguin. He played seven seasons for the Penguins totaling 451 games, 84 goals, and 219 points. In his seven year NHL career, Morozov earned the nickname "The Devil Killer" for his notorious success against the New Jersey Devils. In fact, New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur in an interview before a Penguins/Devils game on Fox Sports Net jokingly stated that he had nightmares of Morozov each night before his club would play the Penguins. He also won an Olympic Silver Medal on the 1998 Russian Olympic Team during his rookie year with the Penguins. Despite these successes, Morozov never fully developed into the player he had the potential to be as he played a majority of his first few seasons in the NHL on the third and fourth lines due to the tremendous depth of a talent laden Penguins team. He finally got his chance on the starting line during the 2002–2003 season and the KLM line of Alexei Kovalev, Lemieux, and Morozov lead the Penguins to a top 3 record in the conference the first third of the season before being dismantled by injuries and trades. After bursting onto the scene with 25 points in 27 games, Morozov suffered a fractured wrist by a crushing hit that ended his season and Lemieux became bogged down by back problems which forced him to call it a year while Kovalev was later traded at the NHL trade deadline.
The next season saw Morozov off to a slow start, mainly due to the lack of talent on a young Penguins team, however down the stretch of the 2003–2004 season, Morozov was instrumental to the Penguins late season success, leading the team with five game-winning goals including two in the final three games of the season. During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, he went back to Russia to hone his skills and play for the Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague (RSL). After a successful 2004–2005 season with Ak Bars and with the NHL's future up in the air, he opted to remain in the RSL for one more season in hope of winning a championship. The 2005–2006 season proved a great one for Morozov where he finished the regular season leading the league in goals (23) and being second in points (49) after Sergei Mozyakin (52) while leading Ak Bars to its first championship win in nearly ten years. He was instrumental in his teams long playoff run, amassing an unbelievable 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in just 13 games en route to Playoff MVP. He was also qualified for six other RSL league awards, two of which he won. The choice was a very difficult one for Morozov as he wanted to join his compatriots Evgeni Malkin and Alexander Semin in the NHL but he also had a great relationship and close ties with Ak Bars. However, in the end Morozov chose to sign an undisclosed contract to stay with his Russian club in hopes of winning back-to-back championships.
During the IIHF European Championship Cup (ECC) in January 2007, Morozov earned the titles of best forward and MVP as he led Ak Bars to the championship, reaffirming Russian dominance at the tournament. When the regular season ended, Morozov lead the league and established new Super League record in points (83) as Ak Bars Kazan had a league leading 119 points and well on the way to an unprecedented second straight championship. He became the first player in the history of the RSL to top the eighty points in a season and his 83 points broke the old record of 79 held by Sergei Makarov. This is a record that will stand the test of time as in just two more years the RSL would be replaced by a greater league spanning four countries. After quickly dispatching of Metallurg Novokuznetsk in the opening round in three games, Ak Bars then defeated Khimik Moscow Oblast and CSKA Moscow in four games each to advance to the finals to face Metallurg Magnitogorsk. In a final decisive game five, Ak Bars would come up short losing the final game by the score of 2–1. Despite not matching his stellar numbers of the 2005–2006 season, Morozov finished the playoffs with a league leading 15 assists in 14 games.
Shortly after the 2006–2007 RSL season ended, Morozov was chosen to represent Russia as an alternate captain at the International Hockey World Championship (IHWC). Despite missing two games to a minor knee injury, in just seven games he finished first in goals with eight while finishing second in points as well as capturing the title of best forward at the tournament. The following and final RSL season proved another successful one for Morozov as he continued his dominance of the league by finishing in the tops in scoring and leading Ak Bars to the playoffs once again but would come up one game and one goal short of the finals in another heartbreaking 4–3 loss to Salavat Yulaev Ufa. The 2007–2008 RSL season would be the last in the league's history as it would be replaced by the newly formed Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) at the start of the 2008–2009 season. The KHL be comprised of the 20 current teams from the RSL, Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg from Russia of the Vysshaya Liga, Barys Astana from Kazakhstan, Dynamo Minsk from Belarus, as well as a team from Latvia based in Riga known as Dinamo Riga.
Due to his previous year's success with the Russian national team at the 2007 World Championship, Aleksey was chosen as captain of the 2008 squad. With Morozov in the lineup the previous year, Russia went undefeated until he suffered a knee injury and the 2007 squad without their alternate captain would finish 1-1 and fall short of the Gold once again. However, with Morozov as their captain and in the lineup, Russia would go undefeated once again and capture the Gold by defeating Canada in a thrilling overtime contest 5-4. The gold medal score was Russia's first in 15 years and would be Russia's 24th overall, tying Canada for the most gold medals by any county. The 2008 IIHF World Championship also marked 100 years of World Championship hockey. With Morozov in their lineup, the Russian national team through 2007-2008 had a perfect record of 14-0 at World Championships.
In 2008, his Russian club Ak Bars Kazan joined the Kontinetal Hockey League. Although Morozov was limited to only 49 games due to a freak head on collision with Atlant Moscow goaltender Ray Emery, he finished second in scoring with 70 points (32+38). Following the season's end, Ak Bars swept Barys Astana in the Round of 16 and defeat them in season series 3-0. In the quarterfinals they would face the talent-laden Avangard Omsk and dispatch them in a final decisive game five 3-2 in OT. For the semi-finals and finals matches, the playoff series length was increased to seven games for the final four teams in it and in their semi-final match-up, Kazan defeated Dynamo Moscow 4-2 and would go on to face Lokomotiv Yaroslavl in the finals, making it the third time in five years that Ak Bars has made it to the finals. Although Ak Bars would get off to a slow start, getting outscored in their first three games by a combined score of 9-4 including two shutout losses, they and captain Aleksey Morozov would turn it on when it mattered. Finding themselves down 3-2 in the series, Ak Bars would snatch game six away from Lokomotiv in overtime and in the final decisive game seven their captain provided all the offense the team needed as Morozov scored the lone goal in a 1-0 victory making Kazan the first team to ever capture the Gagarin Cup and first ever KHL champions.
The world stage has been the big easy for Morozov, and due to his previous international success he was once again chosen to captain the 2009 Russian squad at the World Championships. Although Morozov would finish with only 5 points in 9 games, he would once again for the second consecutive year lead Russia to a Gold medal victory over Team Canada. The medal would be Russia's world record 25th, giving them the edge over Canada (24). Since 2007, Team Russia has gone a perfect 21-0 with Morozov in their lineup.
Honours[edit | edit source]
- CIS - Rookie of the Year: 1994–1995
- NHL All-Rookie Team: 1997–1998
- Olympic Silver Medal (Russia): 1998
- Russian Super League Championship: 2006
- Ceska Pojistovna: 2006
- Kubok Pervovo Kanala: 2006
- European Champions: 2007
- Best Forward (ECC): 2007
- Most Valuable Player (ECC): 2007
- Best Forward (IHWC): 2007
- World Championship (Russia) : 2008
- Gagarin Cup : 2009
- World Championship (Russia) : 2009
Statistics[edit | edit source]
|2004–05||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||58||20||26||46||32||4||0||1||1||2|
|2005–06||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||51||23||26||49||71||13||13||13||26||4|
|2006–07||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||53||34||49||83||34||14||2||15||17||6|
|2007–08||Ak Bars Kazan||RSL||57||30||33||63||34||10||4||7||11||8|
|2008–09||Ak Bars Kazan||KHL||49||32||38||70||22||21||8||11||19||12|
[edit | edit source]
|Pittsburgh Penguins first-round draft picks|
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