BY RANDY SCHULTZ
In the documentary, “Red Army,” director Gabe Polsky scores a hat trick. The documentary is based on the history of one of the most powerful hockey teams ever assembled on the face of the earth: The Soviet Red Army Team.
Polsky’s center character in this documentary is Slava Fetisov, considered the greatest hockey players to ever lace up a pair of skates in the Soviet Union. The former defenseman is one of the most decorated hockey players in the history of the game, including induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada.
First, Polsky gives the viewer a look at post-World War II Soviet history. It goes from Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who helped develop the Soviet hockey machine, through the Cold War, to the decline and fall of the Soviet Union to the country today.
Second, an informal history of the Soviet Red Army Team is also presented. Fetisov is shown as a young boy of 10 being chosen to play in the Soviet hockey system that had been established right up through his days in the National Hockey League.
Third, and probably the most important part, Polsky portrays all of the sacrifices the Red Army Team had to make that people on the outside never saw. An example would be of how a married member of the team would be sent away from his family to a hockey camp for 11 months and only be able to see his wife and children for a mere 34 days. That included isolation at Christmas, birthdays and other holidays.
The “Russian Five,” which are considered the best five hockey players ever assembled to play on a sheet of ice, are also highlighted. They include Alexei Kasatanov, Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov, Vladimar Krutov and Fetisov.
This is a hockey documentary worth watching. It is one that all hockey fans, historians and young players should go and see.
It will open a lot of eyes.