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09-27-2012, 09:34 PM
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Originally Posted by Mr Kanadensisk View Post
I know that the Soviet National team players also played for the 2 or 3 club teams based in Moscow but for all intents and purposes I would say the USSR had a full time national team program, or at least the closest thing possible to one. I would love an honest assessment from some of the USSR hockey experts here of how they think the teams listed above would have compared if Canada had a similar national team program.

My opinion is that the Soviet teams listed above were some of the best teams ever, but that it was mostly due to the amount of team preparation time and tournament experience they had compared to other countries and that probably made the individual Soviet players look much better than they actually were. For example despite having a great mens national team in '87/88 and great U20 teams in '89 and '92 the number of former Soviets who did well as individuals in the early '90s NHL was relatively small.

I think if all the hockey nations had put the same emphasis on their national teams as the USSR did then we would remember these teams very differently.
Some points about NHL success for soviet players:

1. Culture shock (Look at the Krutov case for example. He never could handle the transition ending up with substance abuse issues)

2. Different system. It wasn't the today's NHL which embraced a lot of european hockey systems' positives.

3. Prejudice about soviets. Again this was a different time. And sometimes the looks you face are tougher than any game related issues.

4. Smaller rinks. Some players adjust well to them, some just don't.

5. Soviets were used to playin 5 man units. Every unit was a well oiled machine. You could take one player out maybe, but not let them play on different lines. It was totally new to them.

6. The NA coaches also had little knowledge about the soviet hockey system, i.e. they just couldn't use the player's skills properly. You can't blame them for that regarding the situation though. I mean look at the russian 5 in Detroit under Bowman. He was an exception. He knew what he had on his hands and how to use it. Got him another Stanley Cup.

Soviet players were just otherworlders in the NHL. They actually had to learn a new game. Doesn't mean they were not as good as their record.

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