Russian winger Danis Zaripov, a three-time World champion and record five-time Gagarin Cup champion, today announced his retirement from pro hockey, following the final regular season matchup for his club Ak Bars Kazan, in advance of the 2023 Gagarin Cup Playoffs.
Starting his career with his hometown Mechel Chelyabinsk in 1997, Zaripov would split his first five pro seasons between Chelyabinsk and a season with Swift Current of Canada’s WHL, attempting to crack the NHL Draft. Undrafted in North America, Zaripov would join Kazan in 2001, where he would spend the next twelve straight seasons, and eighteen total, capturing the Continental Cup in 2008, and the Gagarin Cup in 2009 and 2010, with the Tatars, winning League MVP honours in 2009. Zaripov would transfer to Metallurg Magnitogorsk in 2013, capturing another pair of Gagarin Cups in 2014 and 2016 in his four seasons with the Metallurgists. Zaripov would return to Kazan in 2016, spending his final six seasons with a fifth and final Gagarin Cup in 2018, putting him front and away the winningest club player in Gagarin Cup history. An eight-time KHL All Star, Zaripov retires with, spread across 26 total pro seasons in the Russian Superleague and KHL, 356 goals and 812 points in 1109 career games, with another 166 points in 217 career playoff games.
Due to his later career success, Zaripov would not join the Russian national team until he was 25, suiting up for his first of seven World Championships at the 2006 tournament. Zaripov would medal at five of seven (2006-09, 2011, 2014-15) of his appearances, capturing Gold in 2008, 2009 and 2014, along with Silver in 2015 and Bronze in 2007. Zaripov would also participate on the Euro Hockey Tour eight times, winning four titles (2006, 2008-09, 2011), and played four games at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, his lone Games competition. Zaripov made his final national team appearance in 2016, after which he was banned from 2017-19 by the IIHF after testing positive for pseudoephedrine; he did not return to the national team after his ban.
Zaripov was a six-time IHLC champion over the course of his career, winning first on the 2005-06 Euro Hockey Tour, with his final coming again on the tour in the 2014-15 season. We wish Danis and his family the very best for his retirement and the things to come!