Saturday, February 14, 2015

Red Army Movie Green Unit Week - Head Coach Viktor Tikhonov

In honor of the US release of the documentary feature film "Red Army", which had it's widespread release yesterday and continues nationwide over the course of the next month (click here for the schedule of cities and dates), we are have featured each member of the fames Soviet Central Red Army Hockey Club's famed "Green Unit" of forwards Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and  Vladimir Krutov and defensemen Alexi Kasatonov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

Red Army poster photo RedArmyMovieposter.jpg

The Green Unit was assembled and coached by the legendary Viktor Tikhonov, whose all-powerful, dictatorial style brought the team great successes, but at the cost of the freedom of his players, who were required to not only train, but live in the team's training base for 11 months out of the year.

Tikhonov's own playing career began in 1949 with VVS Moscow, the hockey club of the Soviet Air Force, under the guidance of Soviet hockey innovator Anatoli Tarasov. He later moved to Dynamo Moscow in 1953-54, where he played for ten seasons, eventually finishing his career with 35 goals in 296 games played, four consecutive Soviet League championships (3 with VVS 1951-1953 and 1 with Dynamo in 1954) and a USSR Cup in 1952 with VVS.

After the end of his playing days, he became an assistant coach with Dynamo Moscow in 1964 and later became a head coach with Dynamo Riga. He was later named head coach of the powerful CSKA Moscow (Central Red Army) in 1977. Along with those duties also came the position as head coach of the Soviet National Team, as the vast majority of the national team was made up of players from CSKA.

Tikhonov Dynamo Riga, Tikhonov Dynamo Riga
Dynamo Riga and young head coach Viktor Tikhonov

His success was immediate, as he led CSKA to a Soviet Championship League title in his first season. Following the domestic championship, Tikhonov guided the Soviet Union to the 1978 World Championship, setting the tone for what would become a historical run of success unequalled by any coach in hockey history.

With CSKA's unparalleled ability to choose nearly at will any player it desired from other clubs, by "drafting" them into military service and then assigning them to report to duty with the army' s hockey club, CSKA was essentially a perpetual Soviet National All-Star Team competing in a domestic league. This obvious advantage led to CSKA winning 12 consecutive Soviet Championship League titles under Tikhonov's reign. Additionally, CSKA would win the Soviet Cup in 1977, 1979 and 1988, the European Cup 14 times in 1976 and 1978-1990 and the Spengler Cup in 1991.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov

Additionally, the World Championship gold medal was nearly an annual right, as the Soviets were successful in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1986, 1989 and 1990 - 8 out of a possible 10 times, with a silver medal in 1987 and a bronze in 1985, making for 12 out of 12 placings in the medals.

During that period of time, the World Championships were not held during Olympic years, and the Soviet Union came home with a sliver medal in 1980, followed by gold medals in both 1984 and 1988. In 1984, the Soviet Union went undefeated in seven games with 48 goals for an 5 against, while 1988 saw them finish 7-1 with 45 goals for and 13 against.

Soviet Union 1984 Olympics, Soviet Union 1984 Olympics
The undefeated 1984 Olympic gold medal winning Soviet National Team

Other international success included soundly defeating the NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup and capturing the 1981 Canada Cup tournament, the only nation to defeat the Canadians in five tries.

CCCP 1981 Canada Cup, CCCP 1981 Canada Cup
Viktor Zhluktov celebrates after the Soviet Union’s
shocking 8-1 win in the 1981 Canada Cup final

Despite the success of his teams, he was an unpopular figure with his players, as he was an absolute iron-fisted dictator, controlling not only the player's on the ice, but their personal lives as well, confining them to barracks away from their wives and families for intensive training 10 or 11 months out of the year.

This eventually led to friction followed by an open revolt by stars Igor Larionov and Viacheslav Fetisov in 1991, as they desired more personal freedom and the opportunity to sign a contract to play in the NHL in particular. Eventually the political and economic changes in the Soviet Union resulted in the national federation allowing players to leave for the NHL, with their incentive being a portion of the proceeds from the player's contracts proving too lucrative to pass up, despite Tikhonov's desire to keep the national team intact.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov

"In the past, players stuck it out with the national team for 10 years," Tikhonov told the Toronto Sun in September 1991. "I will have to replace the departed players with juniors and they'll stay with me until they are 23 or 24, before they leave. I'm trying my best to keep the 18- and 19-year-olds from jumping to Scandinavia, Central Europe, or North America. I don't want the drain on our talent to continue, because we won't have a national team at all."

Once players began to receive permission to leave for North America, Tikhonov's obvious advantage in compiling the CSKA roster deteriorated and no more domestic titles would be forthcoming in his remaining years as CSKA coach through 1996. The strength of the National Team had also diminished, as players such as Alexander Mogilny had been lost to defection and Tikhonov did not allow players drafted by NHL clubs, such as Pavel Bure, Valeri Zelepukin, Evgeny Davydov and Vladimir Konstantinov to compete in the 1991 Canada Cup for fear of them defecting to the west as well, which led to a dismal 1-3-1 record to close out the history of the Soviet Union National Team on a down note.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union in December of 1991, Tikhonov guided the Unified Team to gold at the 1992 Olympics, the final great triumph of his long and successful career.

Unified Team celebrates, Unified Team celebrates

"This is the kind of joy I haven't experienced in a long time." He explained that he had mellowed, recognizing the need for a new approach to lure NHL and European stars to play for the Unified Team. "We had a lot of new players and we didn't know them very well," Tikhonov said after the Games. "We lost a lot of good players. In order to get fresh players, the coaches had to review our approach."

Tikhonov would return for the 1994 Olympics after relinquishing his duties as coach at the World Championships, guiding Russia to the Final Round playoffs and an eventual 4th place finish.

In addition to the many, many honors and awards he would receive in the Soviet Union and later Russia, including the prestigious Order of Lenin, Tikhonov would be inducted into the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame in 1998. Later, when the IIHF named it's Centennial All-Star Team, four the six players named, Vladislav Tretiak, Fetisov, Valeri Kharlamov and Makarov, all had played for CSKA and the Soviet Union under Tikhonov during their careers.

Tikhonov, Tikhonov
Tikhonov receiving the Order of Friendship in 2010

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet Union National Team Sergei Makarov jersey as worn during the 1981 Canada Cup. While the Soviet Union was used to having it's way at the World Championships and the Olympics, the Canada Cup was the one time where each country could send it's best players regardless of their amateur or professional status, which benefitted Canada more than any other country.

The Soviet Union had opened it's tournament with a 1-1 tie against their rivals from Czechoslovakia and received a sound 7-3 thumping at the hands of Canada in the Round Robin portion of the tournament, knowing that both countries had already qualified for the playoffs. The Soviets then downed the Czechs 4-1 in the Semifinals and stunned Canada 8-1 in the finals, scoring the last seven goals of the contest after the game was tied at 1-1 eight minutes into the second period.

This style of Soviet jersey with the diamond shapes around the waist was used from 1977 until 1983, including gold medals at the World Championships in 1978, 1979, 1981, 1982 and 1983, the 1981 Canada Cup, the 1979 Challenge Cup vs. the NHL All-Stars and most famously, a silver medal at the 1980 Olympics.

Soviet Union 1981 jersey, Soviet Union 1981 jersey
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1992 Unified Team Andrei Kovalenko jersey as used in the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Tikhonov's final great success of his coaching career.

With the upheaval of the political situation in the Soviet Union in 1991, there was little time to sort out what kind of identity the brand new team made up of six of the 15 former Soviet republics would compete with. Mind you, the Unified Team was not the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) Team, which was comprised 12 of the 15 Soviet republics and acted more like an association similar to the European Union, rather than a country, such as the Soviet Union had.

The Unified Team competed under the Olympic flag, and with just five weeks before the games were to commence, the jersey supplier to all the Olympic teams, Tackla of Finland, made up a set of the usual Soviet Union jerseys, only without the "CCCP" lettering across the chest. Note they did not even continue or even alter the chest stripes, which were still notched on the left hand side for the curvature of the "P"!

This was the one and only appearance for these stop-gap jerseys, as Russia competed in a new set of jerseys in time for the 1992 World Championships two months later in April with"Россия" now across the front in rushed, simple one color block letters rather than the fancier two color, drop shadowed letters used during the 1991 season prior to the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia 1992 Olympics Unified Team
Photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1988-89 CSKA Moscow Alexander Mogilny jersey from Red Army's 13th consecutive Soviet Championship League title under Tikhonov just weeks prior to Mogilny defecting to the west. Mogilny's departure in early May after that year's World Championships in Sweden, effectively marked the end of an era for Tikhnov and the supremacy of CSKA, as prior to the following season Fetisov, Larionov and Vladimir Krutov left the Soviet Union with permission of the authorities to play in the NHL, brining to a close their unparalleled streak of championship dominance.

CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey
CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey, CSKA Red Army 88-89 jersey

Today's video section begins with highlights of the final game of the 1981 Canada Cup tournament.


Our next video selection is the gold medal game from the 1992 Olympics, as the Unified Team, wearing their jerseys without any national identity, captures the gold medal against Canada, followed by a brief clip of the medal ceremony.



For those of you with the time, here is a half hour interview with Tikhonov on the occasion of the Russian's first World Championship victory in 15 years in 2008, which features his long standing view on team play over individual talent and his thoughts on many other topics.

It requires some concentration to listen to the translator over the original Russian language in the background, but is a rare chance for North Americans to hear his experience come through in his own words.


Finally, the trailer for the movie "Red Army", now showing in theaters across the United States and Canada.



  

  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Red Army Movie Green Unit Week - 1983-84 Soviet Central Red Army Viacheslav Fetisov Jersey

In honor of the US release of the documentary feature film "Red Army", which had it's widespread release yesterday and continues nationwide over the course of the next month (click here for the schedule of cities and dates), we are have featured each member of the fames Soviet Central Red Army Hockey Club's famed "Green Unit" of forwards Sergei MakarovIgor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov and defensemen Alexi Kasatonov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

Red Army poster photo RedArmyMovieposter.jpg

Fetisov made his debut for CSKA Moscow in the Soviet Championship League in 1978-79 and scored 29 points in 29 games as a defenseman. Three years later Fetisov would earn the honor of being named the 1982 Soviet Player of the Year. Four years later he would again be named the Soviet Player of the Year. In all, the would play 11 seasons with CSKA Moscow, more commonly known in North America as the Soviet Central Red Army Club.

Fetisov CCCP photo FetisovCCCP.jpg

In each of his 11 seasons with Red Army, they would win the Soviet Championship League title, eight of those as a member of the famed Green Unit, which was completed in 1981 with the arrival of Larionov to complete the KLM line while centering Makarov and Krutov in addition to Fetisov and his defensive partner Kasatonov.

Soviet Green Unit photo SovietGreenUnit.jpg
The Soviet Union's legendary Green Unit

Prior to joining the senior Red Army Club, Fetisov represented the Soviet Union at the European Junior Championships, earning Top Defenseman at the 1976 tournament, in which he won the first of his many international gold medals. He also won gold at the 1976 World Junior Championships the same year, a feat he repeated in 1977 with gold medals in both the European and World Juniors, where he was named Best Defenseman.

1978 saw his third consecutive World Junior gold and second Best Defenseman award. Later that year Fetisov won his first gold medal with the Soviet National Team at the World Championships. Fetisov was also a member of the Soviet squad that was upset at the 1980 Olympics in the "Miracle on Ice", which eventually earned a silver medal. Another gold at the World Championships arrived in 1981 followed by winning the Canada Cup later that year. Two more golds followed in the 1982 and 1983 World Championships before his first gold medal at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

1985 saw a bronze medal at the World Championships break the string of golds. Order was restored in 1986 with a gold.

Slava Fetisov 1986 World Championship

Fetisov next played for the Soviet Union in Rendez-vous '87, a two game series that took the place of the usual NHL All-Star Game in 1987. The conclusion of the series led to a memorable jersey moment, as Fetisov and Wayne Gretzky swapped jerseys, a common practice among European soccer players.

Gretzky Fetisov jersey swap RV87

A silver medal followed in the 1987 World Championships before Fetisov would take part in his second Canada Cup tournament later in the year. The 1988 Winter Olympics saw Fetisov win a second Olympic gold medal in Calgary. His sixth World Championship gold came in 1989.

Fetisov CCCP photo fetisovCCCPK.jpg

At this point in Fetisov's career, he had 11 Soviet Championships, a pair of Player of the Year awards, two European Junior golds, three World Junior golds, six golds, one silver and one bronze medal at World Championships, a Canada Cup championship and two Olympic gold medals and one silver, but there was one championship trophy he was not eligible to compete for - the Stanley Cup.

Around the time of the 1989 World Championships, Sergei Priakin, considered expendable by the Soviet National Team, was allowed by Soviet authorities to play for the Calgary Flames in the NHL. Looking to escape the rigid Soviet system and the iron hand of coach Viktor Tikhonov, whose 11 month a year training schedule had grown more than tiresome, the now 31 year old Fetisov also requested to be allowed a move to the NHL.

He met with great resistance at first, but with a new policy of openness now taking hold in the Soviet Union, as well as the Soviet officials desire for an influx of cash, Fetisov, along with seven other players, were allowed to leave for North America, with the stipulation that they continued to compete internationally for the Soviet Union.

Originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1978, Fetisov's name was put back into the draft in 1983 when he was selected by the New Jersey Devils. The new Soviet players had an immediate impact on the NHL, even as they dealt with various instances of culture shock and a less than warm welcome by Canadians who felt their jobs were being taken.

"For the first 25 games or so, my partners didn't understand my style and I didn't understand the style of the NHL, but we all learned a lot and I thought I had a very good second half," said Fetisov. "It was tough to get out of the country, to fight against a Communist system. And it was tough when I got here (the NHL) for a couple years," Slava admitted. "Many times I would think, 'Why am I here; why did I do it?' I was a big player in Europe and people knew me. Here, all of a sudden, I had to struggle. But I keep telling myself I have to fight through this stuff."

Fetisov Devils photo FetisovDevils.jpg

Fetisov scored a career high 42 points during his first North American season, while compatriot Makarov was named the recipient of the Calder Trophy.

The move to North America had great meaning to Fetisov, beyond just the opportunity to earn a larger paycheck. "It was a victory against a whole system," Fetisov said. "It was not easy. You always have to fight for everything and I fought for everything I have in hockey. I also won the biggest fight away from hockey. That was the fight against communism, the fight for freedom of choices."

In keeping with the agreement, following the Devils elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Fetisov won his seventh and final gold medal at the 1990 World Championships.

1990 Soviet Union WC gold team photo 1990SovietUnionWCgoldteam.jpg
The gold medal winning 1990 Soviet Union National Team, the seventh World Championship gold of Fetisov's career

Fetisov would play four additional seasons for New Jersey, as well as his final appearance for the Soviet Union in 1991 World Championships where he would the second bronze medal of his career, before a move to the Detroit Red Wings during the 1994-95 season.

Once in Detroit, the Red Wings advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to lose to Fetisov's former club, the Devils. In 69 games with Detroit the following season, Fetisov would equal his NHL career high with 42 points. Additionally, the Red Wings would again make a strong playoff push, eventually losing in the Conference Finals to the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche. Prior to the start of the following NHL season, Fetisov would conclude his international career by playing for Russia for the first and only time at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

It all came together for the Red Wings in 1997, as Fetisov, as part of the famed "Russian Five", won the 1997 Stanley Cup with a four game sweep of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Russian Five
The Russian Five of the Detroit Red Wings

The victory made him and long-time teammate Larionov the only men to have ever won the Stanley Cup, the World Championship, an Olympic gold medal, the World Junior Championship and the Canada Cup. The Canada Cup evolved into the World Cup of Hockey, and Joe Sakic and Scott Niedermayer joined the two Russians as winners of the five most important championships in the world of hockey.

Following the Stanley Cup victory celebrations in 1997, Fetisov was involved in a limousine crash which ended the career of teammate Vladimir Konstantinov and quite nearly cost him his life. Fetisov escaped with relatively minor injuries and continued his playing career, which included an emotional repeat championship for the Red Wings in 1998, which cumulated in a memorable scene on the ice as a wheelchair bound Konstantinov was included in the Stanley Cup presentation following the Red Wings victory. It would be the final game of Fetisov's NHL career.

Fetisov Konstantinov 1998 photo FetisovKonstantinov1998.jpg
Fetisov sharing the Red Wings Stanley Cup victory with Konstantinov following what would be the final game of his career

He would retire with 367 games played in the Soviet Union, scoring 339 points, and 546 games in the NHL, mainly due to the much longer NHL schedule despite playing two seasons more in the Soviet Union, in which Fetisov scored 228 points.

Fetisov has won numerous awards in his home country, including the Order of Lenin in 1988 and even had an asteroid named for him!

In the world of hockey, Fetisov was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. "I just couldn't believe it when they called me," said Viacheslav. "It's a great honour. You play all your life to get the recognition and it feels great, especially being a Russian-born hockey player and spending most of the best years back in Europe. It's a great honour to be in same category as other legends. I have achieved everything I dreamed of in my childhood," said Fetisov.

In 2008, Fetisov was named to the IIHF's International Centennial All-Star Team, which named but five players to create the finest starting lineup of the century, with Fetisov receiving 54 of a possible 56 votes, with no other player earning more than 38.

Today's featured jersey is a 1983-84 Soviet Central Red Army Viacheslav Fetisov jersey as worn during the season in which he set a career high with 49 points, a feat made all the more impressive when taking into account the 44 game season played in the Soviet Union, compared to the 82 game season in the NHL.

This jersey is a striking example of a Soviet club team jersey, with the added flash of the stars running down the arms and the red, white and blue color scheme when compared to the spartan red and white jerseys worn by the Soviet Union national team.

The Central Sports Club of the Army (CSKA) was the dominant team in the Soviet League, exploiting every advantage the system offered them to acquire the best players in the land, which resulted in an absurd run of dominance that saw Red Army (as they were often referred to in North America) win 32 Soviet League championships (including 13 in a row from 1977 to 1989), 12 USSR Cups, 20 IIHF European Champions Cups and one Spengler Cup, with Fetisov participating in the majority of those successes.

 photo SovietRedArmy83-84jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1990 Soviet Union National Team Viacheslav Fetisov jersey. This vibrant style was worn during the final days of the Soviet Union, and in fact carried over into the early days of the new Russia National Team with the CCCP lettering either missing or crudely screened over with "Russia". It was notable for the increased use of yellow, as the vast majority of Soviet national team jerseys were limited to red and white.

In 1990, the Soviet Union would win the final of it's 22 World Championship gold medals and seventh of Fetisov's career.

Soviet Union 1990 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1989WCF.jpg
Soviet Union 1990 jersey photo RussiaCCCP1989WCB.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1991-92 New Jersey Devils Viacheslav Fetisov jersey as worn following Fetisov's being granted permission by the Soviet authorities to become one of the earliest Soviet players to compete in the NHL. The Devils wore red and green jerseys for their first 11 seasons in New Jersey until changing to red and black jerseys beginning the following season, which would be Fetisov's  fourth with the Devils.

The 1991-92 Devils jerseys can be instantly recognized by the NHL 75th Anniversary patch worn on the all the players jerseys that season.

 photo NewJerseyDevils91-92jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Super extra bonus jersey: Today's super extra bonus jersey is a 1996 Russia National Team Viacheslav Fetisov jersey as worn by Fetisov during the 1996 World Cup of Hockey.

With his migration to the NHL and the playoff success of first New Jersey and later Detroit, Fetisov was often occupied with the Stanley Cup playoffs, making him unavailable for the annual World Championships, but with the World Cup taking place in September prior to the NHL regular season, the 1996 World Cup would be the only time in his career he would skate for the new Russia National Team after the breakup of the Soviet Union following his years of stalwart service for the previous Soviet Union National Team through 1991.

Russia 1996 jersey photo Russia1996jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video segment includes the goals from the thrilling final game of the 1987 Canada Cup, which features the Soviets wearing today's featured jersey.


Here is footage from the Slava Fetisov Farewell Hockey Game which took place in Russia. See if you can recognize any NHL stars in the footage.


In this brief highlight, Fetisov slices and dices Team Canada and scores easily after a coast to coast rush.


We conclude today with a tribute video to Fetisov, which includes some amazing footage of his time in the Soviet Union, much of which we have never seen before as well as some of the original red and green New Jersey Devils jerseys. Highly recommended, but perhaps with the sound off...



Finally, the trailer for the movie "Red Army", opening in theaters across the United States soon.



 
 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Red Army Movie Green Unit Week - 1981 Soviet Union National Team Sergei Makarov Jersey

In honor of the US release of the documentary feature film "Red Army", which had it's widespread release yesterday and continues nationwide over the course of the next month (click here for the schedule of cities and dates), we are have featured each member of the fames Soviet Central Red Army Hockey Club's famed "Green Unit" of forwards Sergei MakarovIgor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov and defensemen Alexi Kasatonov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

Red Army poster photo RedArmyMovieposter.jpg

Makarov began his career in the Soviet Championship League with Traktor Chelyabinsk in the 1976-77 season, appearing in 11 games and scoring one goal, which gave little clue as to what would follow.

Still, his potential was recognized and he was named to the Soviet Union World Junior squad for the 1977 Soviet World Junior Team where he won a gold medal and finished second in team scoring with 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games.

He then proceeded to impress during his second and final season in Cheylabinsk with 18 goals and 31 points in 36 games to lead Traktor in scoring while finishing in the top ten in league scoring as an 19 year old. His international resume grew with a second gold medal at the World Juniors where the right winger finished third in tournament scoring with 8 goals and 15 points in 7 games. Later that spring, Makarov played in his first World Championships for the Soviet Union, debuting with 3 goals and 5 points in 10 games while earning another gold medal, his third before his 20th birthday.

As was the way in the world of Soviet hockey, Makarov's potential and scoring exploits caught the attention of the powers that be at the Soviet Red Army club, and he soon found himself as a member of the Soviet military, assigned to duty as a hockey player for CSKA Moscow for the 1978-79 season, playing with illustrious teammates such as Vladimir Petrov, Boris Mikhailov, Valeri Kharlamov and future linemate Krutov as well as defensemen Fetisov and Kasatonov.

 photo MakarovRedArmy.jpg

Makarov fit right into the high powered Red Army lineup, totaling 18 goals and 39 points in his first season in Moscow, which concluded with the first of 11 consecutive Soviet Championship League titles for Makarov in Moscow. No longer eligible for the World Juniors, Makarov would have to settle for a lone gold medal in 1979, as the Soviets won the World Championship at home in Moscow where Makarov had 8 goals and 12 points in 8 games. Additionally, Makarov was a member of the Soviet Union National Team who defeated a team of NHL All-Stars in the 1979 Challenge Cup in Madison Square Garden in New York.

 photo Makarov1979CanadaCup.jpg

His offensive game took a quantum leap upward in 1979-80, as he led the league in scoring with 68 points in 44 games on his way to being named the Soviet MVP in 1980. He also made his Olympic debut that year, returning home with a silver medal from Lake Placid, New York.

Makarov was again the Soviet scoring champion in 1981 thanks to a 42 goal, 79 point season, which proved to be his career high while competing in the Soviet Union. He was also back to his gold medal winning ways, as the Soviets won the 1981 World Championship in the spring and then claimed the Canada Cup in the fall of that same year with Makarov chipping in 9 points in 7 games.

He completed a hat trick of league scoring titles in 1982 after a 32 goal, 75 point season before leading the Soviets in scoring at the 1982 World Championships, which added another gold medal to his collection. Also, 1981-82 was the season Larionov would finally arrive in Moscow from Khimik Voskresensk, which led to the formation of both the famed KLM line with both Makarov and Krutov as well as the Green Unit, with defensemen Fetisov and Kasatonov to complete the legendary five man group.

 photo 8012e8c7-bd57-4f04-8e7b-64707012be60.jpg
Larionov's arrival completed the Green Unit in 1981

He was limited to just 30 games of the 1982-83 season, which put an end to his run of league scoring titles, but he recovered from his injury in time to capture another World Championship following a dominant 9 goal, 18 point performance in 10 games for his fifth gold in five tries.

Makarov then went on a run of dominance that would see him lead the league in scoring for six consecutive seasons from 1984 through 1989, highlighted by a 36 goal, 73 point season in 1983-84. During that time period he would win his second and third Soviet MVP awards in 1985 and 1989.

 photo MakarovFuhrrv87.jpg
Makarov attacking the NHL's Grant Fuhr during Rendez-vous '87 

Internationally, 1984 would see him win his first Olympic gold medal, a disappointing bronze at the 1985 World Championships despite his leading the tournament in scoring, a return to gold in 1986 where he again led all scorers in points, a sliver at the 1987 Worlds, a second Olympic gold in 1988 and a return to gold at the World Championships in 1989.

 photo Makarov1988Olympics.jpg
Makarov  would win a second Olympic gold medal in 1988

Makarov's run of Soviet Championships, league scoring titles the KLM line and the Green Unit came to an abrupt end when he, Fetisov, Larionov Kasatonov and Krutov became the first wave of Soviet players allowed to join the NHL following Larionov's open letter of protest of the way they players were treated. Makarov was able to join the defending Stanley Cup champion Calgary Flames, who had drafted him back in 1983 in hopes that he would some day be allowed to leave the Soviet Union.

 photo MakarovFlames1.jpg

His talent translated well to the North American game, as he set a career highs with 62 assists and 86 points in his rookie season, thanks no doubt to the much longer NHL schedule of games, 80 versus no more than 50 in the Soviet Union. He was controversially named the winner of the Calder Trophy as the NHL Rookie of the Year at the age of 31, which led to the "Makarov Rule" limiting the award to players under the age of 26.

 photo MakarovCalder.jpg
31 year old Makarov with the Calder Trophy
as NHL "Rookie" of the Year

He followed with two more seasons of 70 points or more and after a fourth season in Calgary, Makarov  was dealt to the Hartford Whalers in June of 1993 only to be sent to the San Jose Sharks in August prior to the start of the 1993-94 season, where he was reunited with Larionov and led the third year Sharks in scoring with 30 goals and 68 points.

Makarov Sharks photo MakarovSharks.jpg

With the Flames early playoff exits in 1990 and 1991, Makarov made two final international appearances for the Soviet Union, winning gold in 1990 and a bronze in 1991 at the World Championships.

Makarov was limited to 43 games in 1994-95, seemingly brining a close to his playing days at age 37, as he then turned to coaching. He did make a brief comeback attempt in 1996-97, playing four games with the Dallas Stars and then six games with HC Fribourg-Gottéron in Switzerland before retiring for good.


Makarov's final totals show 11 Soviet championships, two Soviet Cups, 11 European Champions Cups, three Soviet MVP awards, nine Soviet scoring titles, the Calder Trophy, a Canada Cup, the 1979 Challenge Cup, two World Junior golds, eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals at the World Championships and a silver and two gold Olympic medals. He is the all-time leading scorer for the Soviet Union with 248 total points, with only Alexsandr Maltsev having more scored more than 200.


His Soviet scoring totals are 322 goals and 710 points with an additonal 134 goals and 384 points while in the NHL. In 2001, Makarov was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame and then in 2008 received the ultimate honor of being named to the prestigious IIHF Centennial All-Star Team, which was limited to only the best six players in the last 100 years, one at each position.


 photo IIHFAllCenturyTeam.jpg
The IIHF Centennial All-Star Team

Today's featured jersey is a 1981 Soviet Union National Team Sergei Makarov jersey. In September of 1976, the Soviet Union debuted a new set of sweaters decorated with repeating diamond shapes around the waist - a radical departure for the Soviets. This style would serve the them well, including several tours of North America in the Super Series games against NHL clubs, the 1976 Canada Cup, the 1979 Challenge Cup, the 1980 Olympics, the 1981 Canada Cup and another tour of North America in 1983.

While the Soviet Union was used to having it's way at the World Championships and the Olympics, the Canada Cup was the one time where each country could send it's best players regardless of their amateur or professional status, which benefitted Canada more than any other country.

The Soviet Union had opened it's tournament with a 1-1 tie against their rivals from Czechoslovakia and received a sound 7-3 thumping at the hands of Canada in the Round Robin portion of the tournament, knowing that both countries had already qualified for the playoffs. The Soviets then downed the Czechs 4-1 in the Semifinals and stunned Canada 8-1 in the finals, scoring the last seven goals of the contest after the game was tied at 1-1 eight minutes into the second period. Makarov would finish the final with two assists, including one on Larionov's opening goal of the game at the five minute mark of the second period.

Soviet Union 1981  jersey photo SovietUnion1981Fjersey.jpg
Soviet Union 1981  jersey photo SovietUnion1981Bjersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1979-80 Soviet Central Red Army Sergei Makarov jersey as worn by Makarov during the season he would lead the league in scoring for the first of nine times in ten seasons as well as being named the league MVP for the first of three times.

This jersey has a few details of note, as it was manufactured by a Canadian company, Sandow SK, and  it's nameplate and numbers are sewn on, as opposed to the common 1980's Soviet practice of screen printing with thick ink. Also, the assistant captain's "A" appears to be dye-sublimated onto it's own "mini-nameplate", which was then sewn onto the jersey, and at a somewhat haphazard angle, rather than a letter being sewn directly to the jersey, a method often seen in Europe but rarely in North America.


Due to it's Canadian manufacturing, it's probable that this jersey was made for the 1979-80 Red Army tour of North America as a part of the "Super Series" of exhibition games against NHL club teams and then brought back for use during the Soviet league regular season after the addition of a Cyrillic nameplate. Sharp-eyed readers will notice the blue letters on the back showing through the neck hole, which has been covered up by the red nameplate when viewed from the back, which shows this particular jersey has been recycled from another player, a common practice in the latter days of the Soviet Union when resources such as hockey equipment were stretched thin at times.


Soviet Red Army 1986-87 jersey photo SovietRedArmy1986-87Fjersey.jpg
Soviet Red Army 1986-87 jersey photo SovietRedArmy1986-87Bjersey.jpg

Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 1987 Soviet Union National Team Sergei Makarov jersey as worn by Makarov during Rendez-vous '87, a two-game series held in Quebec City on February 11 and 13, 1987 which replaced that season's traditional NHL All-Star Game and featured a team of NHL All-Stars against the Soviet National Team.

This jersey is typical of the Soviet style, with a minimum of adornments and simple one color names and numbers, made to look even more spartan when compared to the flashy NHL All-Star jerseys it competed against.

This style made its debut at the 1984 Olympics and was worn again later that year for the 1984 Canada Cup. Although the Soviets wore a series of flashier Adidas jerseys from 1985 through the 1987 Canada Cup, this style made a single encore return for Rendez-vous '87 in February against a team of NHL All-Stars.

 photo SovietUnion1987Rendez-vous87jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Super extra bonus jersey: Today's super extra bonus jersey is a 1990-91 Calgary Flames Sergei Makarov jersey. Makarov was among the first wave of star players allowed to leave the Soviet Union to play professionally in the NHL and made an immediate impact, winning the NHL Rookie of the Year award after leading the Flames in scoring in 1989-90.

The Flames moved to Calgary in 1980-81 and retained the same jerseys they wore in Atlanta, only with the flaming A crest updated to a flaming C. This style jersey would remain in use through the 1993-94 season.


Calgary Flames 1990-91 jersey photo CalgaryFlames1990-91jersey.jpg
photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video section begins with a look at the sublime talents of Makarov.


Next, Makarov and the Green Unit score a goal in Game 3 of the 1987 Canada Cup.


Finally, the trailer for the movie "Red Army", opening in theaters across the United States soon.


 
 
 

hit counter for blogger