Scotty Bowman’s ingenious solution

One of the main outcomes of the 1972 Super Series was that both Canada and the USSR realized that each team had its own unique style of play, and in subsequent years they learned from each other.
So, for example, Canadians adopted the puck possession technique from Soviet hockey players, and the USSR national hockey team got used to power hockey. But there were other examples as well. Namely, the tendency of the Russians to combine the attacking three and a couple of defenders, thus forming a close-knit five. However, many years passed before the day when this technique was applied overseas.
The first to put it into practice was Detroit hockey mentor Scotty Bowman. And today it was 20 years old when in game between the Calgary Flames and Detroit Red Wings, 5 Russians of the Detroit Red Wings – Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyacheslav Fetisov, Sergey Fedorov, Igor Larionov and Vyacheslav Kozlov – were united into one link for the first time.

I was lucky that I caught these times that I was part of that team. I knew that someday Detroit would win the Stanley Cup, and I was always afraid that they would change me.

In 1995, the Detroit Red Wings failed to make it to the Stanley Cup

Losing in the Conference Finals to Colorado, they managed to set an NHL record for most wins in a season. Just one point was not enough for the team to repeat Montreal’s record for the number of points in one regular season. And following hockey season, live managed to win the Stanley Cup as part of Detroit, having dealt with Philadelphia in the final.

In these successes of Detroit, the Russian Five played significant role. He combined experience and skills of the players of the old and new schools into a single whole. The political significance of this coaching move was almost as great as the sporting result. And the great coach once again proved that everything is fine on time. If Bowman had tried this idea in 1972, he would have been called a traitor. And so, having created the “Russian Five” in 1997, he became a hockey genius.

“My main trick was that I did not put all 5 Russians in 1 line in every match. I was worried that opponents could quickly adapt to the magical style of hockey played by Russian Five from Detroit. Therefore, Itried to confuse my opponent’s cards. Let’s say he started the match, using the Russians in different links, and somewhere in second period – bam, and released them on the ice. Opponents did not know where to run and whom to keep, ”Bowman said.

Unfortunately, six days after winning the Stanley Cup in 1997, Vladimir Konstantinov, who is still in a wheelchair, was seriously injured in an accident, which ended the story of the Russian Five from Detroit.

“It seems that we were passing for the sake of passing, but in reality it’s not so simple”

Two seemingly optional transfers to each other, but at this time someone opens up, options arise for. We lost in the playoffs to Colorado, and we were criticized in the North American press. They said it was our fault. Pass – and someone moved, pass – and someone failed. All this makes it possible to control the game. Why we, hockey players, used to play football in the summer and hockey in the winter: football helps to think on the court. The same “wall” after all is common in hockey, if you use it, you can not even beat anyone one on one: you gave the puck – you opened it and got it back.
I was lucky that I caught these times that I was part of that team. I knew that someday Detroit would win the Stanley Cup, and I was always afraid that they would change me. And so it happened. I consider myself lucky to have won at least two Stanley Cups. I learned a lot from these guys: Slava, Igor, Sergey, Vovka Konstantinov. Every day I took something from them. Not to mention the fact that apart from the Russians there were also Paul Coffey and Steve Yzerman. It’s a sin for me to complain, I played in a good team with good hockey players and wonderful people, ”recalled Vyacheslav Kozlov.

“We enjoyed this game, this joint understanding of it”

“It seems to me that every game we played was a kind of small masterpiece. We not only worked on the ice, because hockey is our job. We enjoyed this game, this joint understanding of it, thanks to which it was easy for us to play even the most difficult, difficult matches. I have vivid memories of winning our first two Stanley Cups.

A year before the first, in the 1995/96 hockey season, we already played with five, but we lost in the playoffs to Colorado, and they began to criticize us in the North American press. They said it was our fault. The coaches, without thinking twice, split up our top five – they gave a couple of defenders to others, the top three was more or less kept, except for the fact that Doug Brown did not have the ending “ov” in his last name. Nevertheless, it can be considered Russian.

Having won the first cup, on the way to the second we spent even more time on the ice, even in the playoffs. But it was Scotty Bowman’s psychological motive, and he was right. By that time, it didn’t matter to us, it was important for us to win the first Stanley Cup for Detroit, we went to this for a long five years and eventually won this trophy twice in a row. I think that was the brightest, most pleasant moment. It was nice to play with my teammates from one country, one hockey school, ”the official NHL website quotes Sergey Fedorov.