VIKTOR POLUPANOV (C, *1946) Recognition in USSR: 1965-66: #4 center 1966-67: #2 center 1967-68: #2 center, 10th in Best Player of the Year voting 1969-70: top 7 center National team (major tournaments): 1966 WCh, 1967 WCh, 1968 Olympics, 1970 WCh Viktor Polupanov started his hockey career with the youth team of Dinamo Moscow. In 1961 he switched to CSKA. General comments: Hockey handbook: "Particularly proficient in the area near the goal of the opponent. Used to shoot right on target from the slot. He went into combat without hesitation." Boris Mikhaylov: "Viktor Polupanov was a sturdy center forward. He was a fine skater and entered the physical battles with bravery." Anatoly Firsov: "Polupanov was a player of the battering ram type. Like Starshinov, he went straight ahead and didn't avoid the tightest defence. To him it wasn't a threat, he just made his way through the thick of the barriers the opponent put up." Vyacheslav Starshinov: "He likes to get into a clash, that is: to play on the brink of an infraction, on the verge of what is allowed by the rules and on the verge of a penalty." Leonid Goryanov: "Some players seem to be born for finesse hockey, like Veniamin Aleksandrov for example. And then there is another type of players who are eager to jump right into the melee. People from my generation will remember how Mikhail Bychkov of Krylya Sovietov was right in his element there in the mid-1950s. Viktor Polupanov's strength and distinction lied in the fact that he had a fine understanding of the most complex game situations and at the same time he was a master in close combat, a master in deflecting pucks and using his body against opponents, and a master with his strong and accurate shot from any distance. In one word, his versatility was admirable." Tarasov (1974): "Polupanov was good at winning the puck and quite tough in close engagement." In 1965, Polupanov (19) was promoted to the senior team together with Vladimir Vikulov (RW, 19). They formed a line together with top LW Anatoly Firsov (24) in what Tarasov describes as a "risky experiment". Tarasov (1968): "Anatoly Firsov was a good teacher. He supported Viktor and Vladimir very calmly, benevolently and tactfully. He did not boast with his experience but consulted both as his equals, and the two guys, especially the somewhat insecure Polupanov, literally flourished from the respect shown to them." Tarasov (1971): "Polupanov was inferior to his linemates when it came to creativity. However, he made up for it with hard work, drive for the goal, good sense of tactics and fine technique." From 1965 to 1968, Polupanov was a fixture on the national team. Afterwards, disciplinary issues started to derail his career. Tarasov (1971): "His lack of will and ability to subordinate himself for the purpose of attaining an aim, the 'liberties' he took with the sporting regime – all of that he never managed to overcome. (...) We endured it for a long time. Perhaps no-one at CSKA was given as much consideration as Viktor. The team forgave him a lot and believed his vows and assurances, but he didn't appreciate the efforts of his comrades." Anatoly Firsov: "I'm not exaggerating when I say Vikulov and I talked with Polupanov dozens of times. We begged him, reasoned with him, persuaded him and finally insisted that he should think of himself and us. Viktor swore that he had gotten the message entirely, that he would honour the sporting regime and that he would forget about alcohol completely. He swore, promised and assured us. And then he deceived us." In late 1968, he lost his spot on the national team and subsequently missed the 1969 World Championship. One year later he was back on the team. Then CSKA Moscow had a weak start into the 1970-1971 season and Polupanov was named one of the culprits. He was a healthy scratch for a few games. After a stern talk by Tarasov, his effort and performance improved, but at the Izvestia Cup in December 1970 Polupanov missed a team meeting on an off-day as he spent the time drinking beer. As a consequence he was removed from the national team again, stripped of the title "Honoured Master of Sports" and left home when CSKA toured Sweden. Anatoly Firsov: "Unfortunately, the removal from the national team did not teach our center forward anything. He believed the coaches were wrong, were treating him unfairly and that the punishment didn't fit his crime. But since then, our team has repeatedly had the sad opportunity to find confirmation that the coaches were right...". As Polupanov's showing didn't get better in January 1971, Tarasov sentenced him to additional training sessions. Once again the player declared he understood the message. Tarasov (1974): "But Viktor deceived the team again. This time he violated the military discipline and therefore he was punished very severely. (...) He deceived me. And not only me, but the whole team. And most of all, he deceived himself." Polupanov didn't play another game for CSKA after February 1971. The next season he had an unsuccessful stint with Krylya Sovietov and that was the end of his career in the top tier of the Soviet league.