from The Hockey News,
In the final season of his NHL career, Vladimir Konstantinov finished second in Norris Trophy voting. It was a distant second to Brian Leetch, but it was second nonetheless. The season before that, he finished fourth in Norris voting. We tell you that only because you might have forgotten how outstanding a player Vladimir Konstantinov was.
To recap, he was a top-five defenseman in the best league in the world for consecutive seasons before a limousine accident during the Detroit Red Wings’ 1997 Stanley Cup celebration robbed him of an NHL career and a normal existence.
Konstantinov had just recently turned 30 and had played six years in the NHL to that point. He was just reaching his career crescendo and probably had at least as many, if not more, NHL seasons ahead of him. That would have given him plenty of time to win more Stanley Cups, perhaps a Norris or two and make a compelling case for Hall of Fame status. To be sure, it would have moved him up significantly on our list of the Top 100 NHL Defensemen of All- Time, where he landed at No. 101. “It took a couple of years, but with our run to the final in 1995 and winning the Cup in 1997, he was starting to get the recognition from people over here that he was one of the top defensemen in the world,” said former Red Wings GM Ken Holland. “I think he had a chance to be regarded as one of the best defensemen in the NHL for a long time. His status in the NHL at that time was beyond Nick Lidstrom’s.”
In our 2020 Collector's Edition, The Hockey News counts down the Top 100 Defensemen of All-Time and tells the tale of each legendary player on the list.
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