Here is a fascinating article from former Red Wing Igor Larionov from The Players’ Tribune:
I roll my eyes whenever I hear people talk about how fast the game is now and how sophisticated the systems have become. Watching the game, does it really seem much faster? Does it really seem more advanced? We had a saying in the Soviet days that I wish more coaches and scouts would adopt today: It’s not how fast you skate, it’s how fast you think.
For those not familiar with Igor and his early years, before he came to the NHL he centered one of the best lines in the history of hockey, the KLM line. The KLM line was the top line of the Soviet Red Army team that dominated international hockey in the the eighties, their only blemish being “The Miracle on Ice. The KLM line featured Igor Larionov centering Vladimir “The Tank” Krutov and Sergei Makarov. They were truly a joy to watch a moving concerto; everything working in perfect harmony. I liken them to a fine Swiss watch with all the parts moving but each performing their function flawlessly.
(Note: Igor Larionov didn’t join the Red Army until 1981. Additionally, the Soviets liked to keep five man units together. Joining the KLM line were defenseman Slava Fetisov, Red Wings fans will remember him, and Alexei Kasatonov. This five man unit was known as the Green Unit, named for the green jerseys they wore in practice. An interesting aside, all five members of the Green Unit were left handed.)
Check out Igor’s article as he shares a little insight on what it was like to play for the Soviet Red Army. It wasn’t fun but it was beautifully to watch.