Forward Slava Kozlov made early impressions in the hockey world while playing for the Khimik club in the Soviet Championship League. During the 1990 World Junior Championship, Kozlov scored 11 points in seven games, helping the team to a bronze medal and securing the USSR rookie of the year award. The same year, Kozlov was drafted 45th overall by the Red Wings.
Kozlov debuted with the team in the 1991-92 season, and after splitting time between Detroit and the Adirondack Red Wings, he began to play full-time with Detroit in 1993-94. When the Wings acquired both Igor Larionov and Slava Fetisov in the mid-90s, Kozlov became an integral part of the Russian Five line, which also included fellow countrymen Vladimir Konstantinov and Sergei Fedorov. The 5-foot-10, 190-pound left-winger registered 73 points – his highest while with Detroit – in 1994 and again in 1996, the same season that the team set the NHL record for most wins with 62. When the Wings won the Stanley Cup in 1997, Kozlov was the third-highest scorer on the team, picking up 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in 20 playoff games. He increased his point contribution to 14 the following postseason and finished with his second Stanley Cup victory. In July 2001, Kozlov was traded to the Buffalo Sabres and relocated the following year to the Atlanta Thrashers, where he played until 2010. Of the 1,182 total NHL games that Kozlov played, he spent the most (607) in Detroit.