Monday, January 14, 2019

Melting Hearts & Ice

IDMb Russian Five Documentary

The Russian Five

The Story of Espionage, Deception, Bribery and Courage

by Keith Gave


If you think, "The Russian Five" is only about hockey then you probably thought, "Rocky" was only about boxing. Keith Gave, former Detroit Free Press sports writer (among his many other talents), spells it out in the sub-title, this is, "A story of espionage, defection, bribery and courage". This is not another sports book written for sports junkies - although they will love it. This is a book for anyone who loves a great story.

Set in Hockeytown (Detroit for those who don't know any better), billionaire Mike Illitch is determined , after a forty year championship drought, to create a hockey team that will win the holy grail  - the Stanley Cup. If that
Author: Keith Gave
means helping great players escape from a Communist country, who speak little or no English, who are products of a repressive political system and who are fiercely loyal to Mother Russia - well so be it. Was it dangerous? Yes. Was it legal? Mostly. Was it audacious? Absolutely. 

The big question was, "With all their differences could the five Russians, (the 'professor', the 'rock star', the 'quiet leader', the 'gentle intimidator', and the 'shy' one) bond with the Detroit Red Wings? Could they, with their different playing style, fuse with the North American team and create a ferocious, fighting machine that would carve a path, through the greatest teams and players in the NHL, to realize the glory of every hockey player's dream - and one billionaire's -  of possessing the hallowed Stanley Cup? 

This is a classic tale of heroes, villains, patriotism, deception, pride, determination,  fear, bonding (sometimes over vodka), tragedy, and revenge. Like nesting Russian
Matryoshka dolls, there are stories within stories within stories in this outstanding book. This is a book about champions who happened to play hockey. 

Whether you love hockey, hate hockey or can even spell hockey this is a 'must read' book. In the dangerous, divisive world we live in today, full of shrill voices, mistrust of everyone who is different than us, and where reactionary responses are common it is refreshing to see the camaraderie, the solidarity of a mixed bag of cultures, politics, personalities, playing styles, who work together, learn together, fight together, avenge together, cry together, while on their journey to global admiration and sports history.

As Sergei Fetisov, so eloquently said, "We need to build more bridges than weapons...[l]ike we did in Detroit." (299)

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