The Russian Five - 2019
In the late 1980s, the Detroit Red Wings worked to finally break their decades long Stanley Cup drought by extracting players from the Soviet Union, and in the process, changed the way North American hockey is played.
Sports and politics clash in this compelling Award Winning documentary about five Russian hockey stars who defected to America to join the Detroit Red Wings in the 1980s, leading to the team's back-to-back Stanley Cup championships.
When Mike Illitch purchased the NHL's Detroit Red Wings in 1982, the team's glory days of Gordie Howe and four Stanley Cup championships over six years were ancient history. Fans and rivals alike nicknamed the team "the Dead Wings" after enduring fifteen seasons of futility. However, newly hired general manager Jim Devellano came up with an audacious plan to infuse new talent into the club, turning his attention toward the hallowed Russian Red Army team, one of the most dominant collections of hockey talent ever assembled. Even though Gorbachev's Glasnost policy had eased Soviet Union restrictions, the team's hockey players were members of the military, technically, and icons of the regime's sports supremacy, closely watched for fear their defection to the high paying NHL may undermine Communist ideals. Through a number of covert encounters that would not be out of place in a espionage film, Devellano and his talent scouts enticed Sergei Fedorov, Vladimir Konstantinov, and Viacheslav Fetisov to defect to America and join the Red Wings organization. The team later added two other Russian superstars with Vyacheslav Kozlov and Igor Larionov, both crucial pieces to the team's back-to-back Stanley Cup championships. While Seattle awaits its own NHL franchise, The Russian Five offers a supremely entertaining account of how a team colluded sport and politics to create a champion.
a Gold Star Film Production. Directed by Joshua Riehl. Executive Produced by Daniel Milstein
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