Red army

Red army is a new documentary about Russian hockey team HC CSKA Moscow (Central sport club of the army or the Red army club). But it is not only about hockey. Through the life and career of legendary player Vyacheslav ‘Slava’ Fetisov, Red army also shows the changes that happened in Russian politics and society. Fetisov started his professional career in the mid 70s. He was very close to his first coach, Anatoly Tarasov. Tarasov used ballet and chess, and you can see, in archival footage, how flexible the players were asked to be, doing somersaults and pirouettes while skating. The least you can say is that CSKA was an unbeatable hockey team. The pride of Rusia. One of their biggest defeat came at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y., when the American team beat the Soviets. That one still hurts Fetisov thirty-five years later. When the Brezhnev government replaced Tarasov by Viktor Tikhonov, practice camp started to be run like an army camp. Players practiced for 10 to 11 months a year, were confined to barracks with very little time allowed to visit their wives and children. Fetisov and the other players hated Tikhonov and his dictatorial coaching style. They were not allowed to go play in the NHL for the US or Canada until Glasnost in the late 1980s. Russian players in the NHL were not very popular at first. There is a clip of Coach’s corner where Don Cherry rails against them. Slava Fetisov first played for the New Jersey Devils in 1989 with not much success. Later on, five of the old teammates from CSKA Moscow were reunited by Scotty Bowman (interviewed for the film) to play for the Detroit Red Wings. They became known as ‘The Russian five’, and helped the Wings win two back-to-back Stanley Cups. Back in Russia, Fetisov was President Vladimir Putin’s Minister of sport from 2002 to 2008. This is a fascinating and fun documentary. Red army can be of interest to hockey fans, of course, but to non-fans as well.

Rémi-Serge Gratton


Red army


Directed by: 
Gabe Polsky
Screenplay by: 
Gabe Polsky
88 min.
Rated Parental Guidance
In English and Russian with English subtitles

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