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.

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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.

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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.


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