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Shanahan dishes on the Russian 5, Wings-Avs stories in ‘Players’ Tribune’ article

From Brendan Shanahan in the Players' Tribune:

I recently watched the movie Red Army, which is a depiction of the Soviet hockey system through Slava Fetisov’s perspective as narrator. As someone who was on the relevant Detroit Red Wings team that won the Cup with the Russian Five, did you watch this movie and/or what are your thoughts about Detroit’s role in making the NHL a global game? — Ryan

I feel like the push to make hockey a global game occurred well before Detroit. Slava is one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met. He’s a good friend. And when I think about him, and really the immersion of Russian hockey into the mainstream, I think about our time together earlier in our careers when we both played in New Jersey. So, to me at least, what was significant about watching the Russian Five play and succeed was seeing the vision Slava had when he first came over to North America finally come to fruition. They really represented a different interpretation of the sport. The idea of cycling back with the puck, rather than just going north. They utilized every inch of the ice in a way that had never been considered before.

It was interesting when you saw all these North American players watching these guys with bewilderment. By the time we won in ’97, I think a lot of teams started adopting the Soviet style. So while being on that team was great and significant, the Russians had already left their mark well before that. Of course, you don’t really get recognition until you win, and before ’97 the knock some people would make on those guys was, Yeah, yeah, they’re talented players, but will they show up in a Stanley Cup finals. I always felt that was unfair. So to me, winning that Cup was kind of the crowning moment after several years of struggling for Slava. Having him get the credibility at the NHL level that he deserved was probably what was most special about it to me.

And going more into the team itself, I didn’t really see those guys as a unit, really. Mainly because they didn’t always play together. Scotty changed our lines constantly. I played the entire ’97 Finals with Igor as my centerman. Sergei played on a line with Kozlov and Doug Brown. So during that playoffs, the Russian Five was only really put together as one unit during our second-round series against Anaheim, and maybe on certain power plays here and there. Otherwise, they were mixed and matched in the lineup by Scotty.

I do remember that anytime they all went on the ice together, the entire road arena would start chanting, “USA!”

Continued with Wings-Avs talk...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink


dreamsofhope's avatar

‘I sometimes see fans who question certain signings or the addition of certain players who maybe don’t measure up based on some metrics. And I think what they overlook is that it’s not necessarily the superstar on the team that imparts the most knowledge to young players who are developing. There are guys who can make a huge, franchise-changing difference with the leadership they provide off the ice.

For example, people will always ask me, “Who taught you how to shoot? Brett Hull?” And I’ll tell them, “No actually, it was Doug Sulliman.” Doug was a veteran guy when I joined the Devils early in my career. Playingwise he was in and out of the lineup, but he impacted my career because he had the time and the interest to pay it forward to us young guys and help us learn how to be pros. You can learn from superstars by watching them, but those guys have so much pressure on them that they need to put all their focus into doing their job. So it’s hard for them to spend a lot of time dissecting the game of a young player who’s coming up, and explaining to them how to improve. Also, sometimes a guy with that level of talent is just so naturally gifted that they can’t really fully explain it to others.

And that’s why healthy organizations need guys like Doug Sulliman. He transformed the way I shot the puck at a young age and that made me a much better player. And then when I went to St. Louis, I learned from Brett Hull by watching him.’

I think us Redwings fans should read this part…. I know a lot of people will still have qualms with certain signings, but working in the community training people how to mentor young people, I think this is KEY! But I see the other side too. There’s balance that needs to happen.

Posted by dreamsofhope from Colorado on 08/09/16 at 02:06 PM ET

SYF's avatar

There’s this:

How do you deal with the nerves and pressures of not only running the hottest show in North America, but also giving it an internal overhaul. Big Fan! — RJ

And then this:

I was curious what you’ve considered the most challenging part of your NHL career. Is it your current position as president of one of the world’s largest hockey franchises? Was it your time dishing out supplemental discipline with the league? Or was it something during your playing career? — Chris (aka ChocolateAlmondFudge on /r/hockey)

Ugh.  Ample Laffs make me giggle and barf at the same time.  How is that humanly possible?

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 08/09/16 at 11:49 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.

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