Today, the 25th of April, is the 65th birthday of one of the finest goaltenders of all time, a member of the IIHF greatest team of the XX century, and the current President of the Russian Hockey Federation, Vladislav Tretiak.

To mark the occasion, many of the leading figures from the Kontinental Hockey League paid tribute to the popular hero and star of the past.

Even today, three decades after he hung up his skates and put an end to a glittering playing career, his popularity in the hockey world is undiminished. This may not be as big a surprise as it seems: in the intervening years, Vladislav has made sure his career would never take him far away from the game he loves – maybe the two are inseparable.

Tretiak has been at the helm of the Russian Hockey Federation since the spring of 2006, having assumed the post on his 54th birthday, and during his 11 years in charge there is scarcely a single hockey venue which has not come under the great man’s gaze as he travels the length and breadth of country, whether to attend the beginning or completion of construction of a brand-new ice palace, or to watch a tournament, be it contested by children, veterans, or amateurs. The fruits of his labors can also be seen between the pipes in the NHL arenas, thanks to his work in his former role as goalies’ coach for the Chicago Blackhawks. Wherever he goes, he is besieged by well-wishers eager to learn, and Tretiak – the perfect gentleman – always obliges. Indeed, even on this significant jubilee, it is likely he is buried deep in preparations for the forthcoming World Championships.

The Kontinental Hockey League wishes Vladislav Alexandrovich Tretiak the happiest of birthdays and continuing success and joy in all his tireless work for the benefit of his beloved game.

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KHL Board of Directors Chairman Gennady Timchenko:

“Vladislav helped create a golden age in the history of hockey, an era of stunning victories in epic battles, the heroes of which became household names across the former Soviet Union and beyond. He was justly named as one of the greatest hockey players of the 20th century, and he has been an inspiration to thousands of youngsters who strive to emulate the master and reach the same heights as he did.

Tretiak is truly inseparable from our beloved game, and today, in his role as head of the Russian Hockey Federation, he works ceaselessly to make the game even more popular. For us, he will always be the number one, as we in hockey call the goaltender position.

Congratulations to Vladislav Alexandrovich Tretiak on this, his 65th birthday, and I hope he will continue to play an important role in Russian hockey for many years to come.”

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KHL President Dmitry Chernyshenko:

“Tretiak is the pride of sport in our nation, a man who has devoted his whole life to hockey, and a superb example of loyalty to one club. Vladislav Alexandrovich has spent his entire career with CSKA, having arrived at the army club half-a-century ago, and as a 16-year-old junior was already good enough to debut in a collective already packed with star players. Soon he was the first-choice goalie for the USSR and went from strength to strength as the formidable Red Machine claimed no fewer than three Olympic golds.

He was not just a phenomenally gifted player, but also a very hard worker, as he knew that success in hockey demanded much more than talent alone, and that only hours of practice combined with boundless dedication can bring the desired result. Tretiak continues to give his all on the ice in veterans’ matches, giving us a fine example of an enviable sporting longevity, and is happy to share his vast experience with the young hockey stars of the future. In the KHL, his goaltending dynasty continues thanks to his grandson, Maxim.

Hard work, a will to win, professionalism and many other qualities vital in our game have been the driving forces behind Vladislav Alexandrovich Tretiak, both in the past and today in his important role as head of the Russian Hockey Federation.

As he celebrates his 65th birthday, I would like to wish him continued good health, success in his work, and many more years of his faithful and fruitful service to Russian hockey.

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KHL Development Vice-President Valery Kamensky:

“When we were children, we all played at being Kharlamov, Maltsev, and Tretiak, and when I was a little older I was fortunate enough to share the ice with the great goalie. I was a young player at Khimik and played against Tretiak’s CSKA back in 1983, and I even had a couple of scoring chances, but unfortunately for me my dream of scoring against him was not to be. I later got to know him personally during the NHL lockout of 1994, when I went to Switzerland and he was there giving master-classes to aspiring goalies.

I imagine that all hockey fans all around the world would love to see Vladislav Alexandrovich in goal just once in their lifetimes, although, when he does take to the ice he plays in defense – Well, that’s his decision, and he’s a man of his word.

I would like to say that Tretiak was and always will be a genuine team player. All of us who went through the CSKA academy and played for the national team learned how to come together as a unit and work for victory, and Vladislav is still helping players to this day. On this special occasion, I would like to wish him the best of health, success in his work, the fulfillment of all his dreams, and that he never loses a drop of that boundless energy.”

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KHL Board of Directors member and Youth Hockey League Managing Director Alexei Morozov:

“Thanks to his possessing a wealth of talent, Vladislav Tretiak broke into the CSKA team at a very young age. Even today, we have very few juniors in our League who could make that kind of an impact at just 16 years of age, yet Vladislav was able to command a place in a truly legendary CSKA team.

All through his playing career and after, Vladislav eagerly shared his vast experience to successive generations of players, and he continues to do so despite his extremely busy schedule. He sets a fine example for future players to follow.

In 2006, he took charge of the Russian Hockey Federation. By 2008, Team Russia had already recaptured the gold medal at the World Championships in Quebec, after a 15-year wait for glory, and Tretiak’s contribution to this triumph should not be overlooked. I was lucky enough to be part of that team, and there was always a special atmosphere surrounding Vladislav Alexandrovich, as many people have noted, and those of us who had the chance to work with him were very fortunate indeed.

Congratulations to Vladislav Alexandrovich Tretiak on his 65th birthday. I wish good luck and the best of health to him and his family, and success in all his endeavors.

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Richard Delacy,
exclusive for khl.ru

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