Name an award in the KHL, personal or team-based, and Mozyakin has likely won it. The legendary forward is the league’s all-time leader in goals, points and games played, has two Gagarin Cup championships, and has been named league MVP four times. He has Olympic gold, World Championship gold and several other medals on the international stage, sometimes serving as captain of the Russian team.
In fact, it is not quite accurate that he never tried to play in North America. Selected 58th overall in the 1998 CHL Import Draft, Mozyakin left his club team in Russia and was going to follow the same junior route many other talented international players did, playing in Canada. After just four games with the Val-d’Or Foreurs though, a contract dispute landed him back in Russia, never to leave again. He registered one assist for the Foreurs, his only point while playing for a North American club.
Somewhat hilariously, Mozyakin’s NHL draft rights were still owned by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who selected him 263rd overall in 2002. Because the KHL and NHL do not have a transfer agreement, those rights were carried indefinitely.
In 842 combined regular season and playoff games in the KHL, Mozyakin scored 419 goals and 928 points. He has served as captain for Metallurg Magnitogorsk for nearly a decade and had 21 points in 38 games this season. Even though his regular season totals were depressed, the old Mozyakin showed up one last time in the postseason, scoring 10 points in 11 games.
It’s not clear if Mozyakin ever would have found success in the NHL, but perhaps the decision to stay in Russia was the right one anyway. He will now go into retirement as one of the greatest to ever play in that league.