In 1988-89, he played in 14 games, but contributed one lone assist. He returned to the European U18 Juniors in 1989, this time coming home with a gold medal after scoring 5 goals and 12 points in 6 games.
Now 17, Kozlov moved up to Khimik full time, playing in 45 games with 14 goals and 26 points for the 1989-90 season. Over the New Year holiday, Kozlov made is World Junior Championships (U20) debut, winning a silver medal with the Soviets and scoring 4 goals and 11 points in 7 games. Later that spring, he played in his third European U18 Juniors, and while the Soviets were limited to a silver medal, Kozlov was the tournament's leading scorer with 19 points in 6 games.
Kozlov was then drafted by the Detroit Red Wings 45th overall early in the 3rd Round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft.
He returned to Khimik for a fourth season of play in 1990-91, scoring 11 goals and 24 points in another 45 games. He also had a busy international season, playing at the 1991 World Juniors, earning a silver, scoring 12 points in 7 games. He then played in his first senior level IIHF World Championships, and scored 3 goals and 7 points in 10 games as an 18 year old, winning a silver medal. Later that fall, Kozlov had the honor of being a part of the Soviet roster at the 1991 Canada Cup tournament. He had a goal and 3 points competing against the world's best as a teenager.
He began the 1991-92 season with CSKA Moscow, scoring 11 points in 11 games before making his NHL debut on March 12, 1992 with the Red Wings. He would play in 7 games with a pair of assists, both recorded on his debut.
Having played just 18 games the previous season, and needing time to adapt to both the size of the rinks and style of hockey in North America, as well as the change in lifestyle, Kozlov played 45 games in the American Hockey League with the Adirondack Red Wings in the 1992-93 season, excelling with 23 goals and 59 points. He also was called up by Detroit for 17 games, scoring his first 4 NHL goals.
While he did play 3 games with Adirondack during the 1993-94 season, Kozlov became a full time NHLer with 77 games for Detroit with a head turning 34 goals and 73 points, good for fifth on the high powered Red Wings. With Detroit an early playoff exit, Kozlov made it over to Italy in time to play one game with Russia at the 1994 World Championships.
With the start of the 1994-95 NHL season delayed until January by labor issues, Kozlov joined his old club CSKA Moscow for 10 games before returning to Detroit once the NHL season got underway. He had 33 points in 46 games and then had 9 goals and 16 points in 18 playoff games as the Red Wings made it to the Stanley Cup Finals.
When the Red Wings acquired Igor Larionov early in the 1995-96 season, Red Wings head coach Scotty Bowman formed what would become known as The Russian Five. While NHL teams had forward lines of three players and dedicated defensive pairs, the North American game did not employ five man units, such as was common in the days of the Soviet Union.
Detroit's Russian Five would consist of center Larionov, Left Winger Kozlov, right wing Sergei Fedorov and defensemen Vladimir Konstantinov and Slava Fetisov, with Larionov and Fetisov having been members of the original, famous Soviet Russian Five, the Green Unit.
Playing a creative, puck possession style and being sound defensively, the Russian Five experiment worked well, with Fedorov leading Detroit in scoring with 107 points, with Kozlov fourth with 73 points, just ahead of Larionov's 71 in fifth place. Fetisov was ninth in team scoring with Konstantinov 11th with 14 goals and 34 points. Detroit made it to the Semifinals of the playoffs, gaining more valuable playoff experience.
Before the 1996-97 season, Kozlov again suited up for Russia, this time at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, scoring 3 points in 5 games.
While Kozlov's offensive numbers regressed for the 1996-97 season to 23 goals and 45 points, the Red Wings put together a great playoff run, defeating the St. Louis Blues in 6, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 4, outlasting rivals the Colorado Avalanche in 6 and sweeping the Philadelphia Flyers in 4 straight to win the Stanley Cup. Kozlov was third in playoff scoring with 7 goals and 13 points in 20 games.
Sadly, the Russian Five lost member Konstantinov, when he and Fetisov were in a limousine celebrating just days after their Stanley Cup victory, which crashed into a tree, ending Konstantinov's career due to the injuries he suffered in the crash.
Kozlov then scored 25 goals and 52 points in 1997-98, followed by another 14 points in 22 playoff games as the Red Wings repeated as Stanley Cup champions.
Kozlov would play three more seasons with the Red Wings, with the best being the 1998-99 season when he had 29 goal and 29 assists for 58 points.
The Red Wings traded Kozlov to the Buffalo Sabres for the 2001-02 season as part of a package in exchange for future Hall of Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek. Kozlov would play one injury shortened season with the Sabres, scoring just 9 goals and 22 points in only 38 games.
Kozlov was then dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers for the 2002-03 season, where he was relied on as one of the team's offensive leaders. His point totals immediately took a leap upward with his new responsibilities, and he introduced himself to the fans in Atlanta with a 21 goal, 70 point season, his best in seven seasons and second on the team behind only Dany Heatley.
After a 20 goal, 53 point season in 2003-04, the 2004-05 NHL season was eventually cancelled due to a lockout of the players by the owners. Kozlov returned to Russia for the season, playing 38 games with his original club Khimik before switching over to the free spending Ak Bars Kazan for 8 games to finish the season.
He returned to Atlanta for the 2005-06 season with a fine 25 goal, 71 point season. He then had the best offensive season of his career in 2006-07 with 28 goals and 52 assists for a career high 80 points, good for second best on the team.
Kozlov rebounded from a 41 point season in 2007-08 with a 26 goal, 76 point season in 2008-09, the second highest of his career, once again second on the team. He would play one final, limited season with Atlanta, scoring 26 points in 55 games.
For the 2010-11 season, Kozlov would continue his career in the primarily Russian KHL, signing with CSKA Moscow. He would play in 40 games with 25 points before a late season move to Ufa Salavat Yulayev. While he would play just 4 regular season games with Ufa, he would play in 21 playoff games for the club, as they would go on to win the Gagarin Cup as KHL champions.
Despite the championship with Ufa, Kozlov would sign with Dynamo Moscow for the 2011-12 season, scoring 21 points in 44 games. While Kozlov was limited to just 6 playoff games, Dynamo would defeat Dinamo Minsk in 4, Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod in 6, sweep SKA Saint Petersburg and then outlast Avangard Omsk in the full seven games for Kozlov's second consecutive Gagarin Cup.
For the 2012-13 season, he would see limited action, playing in just 13 games with Spartak Moscow. He would play a second season with Spartak in 2013-14, scoring 26 points in 54 games. His final season of play would come with Atlant Moscow Oblast, playing in 46 games with 13 points before retiring after a 28 year career.
Kozlov's final NHL totals were 1,182 games played, with 356 goals and 497 assists for 853 points ad two Stanley Cup championships. His KHL final totals were a more modest 201 games played with 37 goals and 61 points, yet two Gagarin Cups to his credit.
Today's featured jersey is a 2006-07 Atlanta Thrashers Slava Kozlov jersey as worn during his career best season of 80 points.
The Thrashers debuted in 1999-00 wearing a unique set of jerseys. NHL rules did not allow a new franchise to have a third jersey until their fifth season of play, so the Thrashers chose not to produce a standard road jersey with their primary logo and instead made an alternate jersey to be worn on for road games that featured their secondary shoulder logo.
This style was worn from the club's debut in 1999-00 to 2006-07 before all the NHL jerseys were replaced by the new Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08.
Today's second featured jersey is a 2005-06 Atlanta Thrashers Slava Kozlov jersey as worn during the final season for their original road "alternate" jersey used since they debuted in 1999-00.
This style has been worn virtually unchanged since the club changed their name from the Falcons to the Red Wings in 1932-33 with only the addition of sleeve numbers and names on the back worth noting.
Due to a last minute change, the Russians rejected their already available for public sale jersey for the 1998 Olympics and reverted to this style for the Games in Nagano, Japan, where they earned a silver medal.
Both teams wore special, one-off jerseys that were crested "New York" on the front rather than the Sabres usual buffalo head logo, while the Rangers jerseys also read "New York" rather than "Rangers". All the jerseys were then auctioned off after the game to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund.