Renews Contract With Red Wings In 1998
Although the Red Wings had drafted Fedorov and a few other Russians in the hope that they would immediately lead the team to its first Stanley Cup victory since 1955, it was several years before the team achieved that goal. Under Coach Scotty Bowman, who sometimes clashed with Fedorov over his erratic playing, the Red Wings finally returned to championship status with a sweep in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals over the Philadelphia Flyers. Just months later, however, Fedorov refused to report to the team's training camp in a salary dispute. Both sides dug their heels in and contract talks dragged out for several months, causing Fedorov to miss most of the 1997-98 season. After the Carolina Hurricanes weighed in with a $38 million offer, the Red Wings finally caved in to Fedorov's demands and met that figure with a six-year contract. After rejoining the team, Fedorov helped the Red Wings win another Stanley Cup victory, this time over the Washington Capitals.
Some Red Wings fans were angered by Fedorov's stubborn negotiating stance; others were titallated by rumors of his romance with teenage tennis star Anna Kournikova. Widely reported to be dating in 1997, when she was sixteen years old, the two were reported to be engaged in 2001. Both Fedorov and Kournikova refused to discuss the matter in public. He received more positive attention for his announcement in 1999 that he would donate his entire salary that year to establish the Sergei Fedorov Foundation, an organization devoted to helping disadvantaged children in the Detroit area and in Russia. The first Fedorov Scholarships were awarded in December 1999. Fedorov also helped to transport medical and sports supplies to Moscow-area children.
Now settled into a multi-year contract with the Red Wings, Fedorov helped the team return to another Stanley Cup victory over the Carolina Hurricanes in 2002. With three championships in six years, the success of the Red Wings dispelled once and for all the notion that European players could not adapt successfully to the ranks of the NHL. Although he brought his father to live in the United States, Fedorov retained many ties to his homeland. After the eligibility rules were changed, he played on two medal-winning Russian hockey teams in the 1998 and 2002 Olympic Games. After the controversy over his 1998 contract dispute, Fedorov regained his status as one of the sport's most popular players, in part because of his thoughtfulness off the ice. As he described his career to David Brennan in an interview for the Institute for International Sport in 2001, "You've got to have fun. It's part of the way I've been brought up. I think it's fun. I never thought I'd be a professional hockey player. I didn't even care. Because I did not know, first of all, anything about that. Second of all, I just love the sport. I have been fortunate and lucky enough to work with good coaches, great teammates, and I've been fortunate enough to have muscles and bones that can provide me with that particular physical force."
- Sergei Fedorov - Chronology
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Famous Sports StarsHockeySergei Fedorov Biography - Plays For Soviet Army Team, Intriguing Start To Nhl Career, Renews Contract With Red Wings In 1998