Slava Fetisov


Back in 2014 when I was able to go on the Central Valley Honor Flight, there was one of these men from our region right behind me on the bus. We had wonderful conversations about the boats and how we both found our way into them. The truth is that it was men like him who inspired me to go into the depths aboard my generations boats. They are tough men who did amazing things, as that entire generation of Veterans did. They are fading far too fast and soon all that will be left is the memories and records they left behind. And those whom they inspired.

Outgoing President Obama has promised “retaliation” against Russian hacking. Putting aside the fact that nobody can show any definitive way that the supposed hacking impacted the election, what exactly does he plan to do? He says that sanctions are an option, but aren’t we already doing that over Crimea and Ukraine? Are we really going to start a war over what it basically a fake news story? To be clear, I have no doubt that the Russians were hacking us. Show me precisely HOW it effected the outcome of the election. You know, like the way that CIA hacking of certain American Citizens effected the 2012 election…

121616-arizona-sheriff-contemptSheriff Joe has finally given up his “investigation” of Obama’s Birth Certificate. After five years of turning up exactly nothing (because there isn’t anything there), he complained that his investigation “wasn’t being taken seriously by the rest of the country.” He is, of course, correct about that. But much like a Candidate for President who looks for any excuse to cling to to explain why the results didn’t go his way, he blames the media, the culture, the mysterious “them” and anything and everything except his own irrational behavior. Much like a President accused of misbehavior takes to bombing aspirin factories in the Sudan, perhaps Sherriff Joe could have had more success at his wild goose chase if it had not been widely seen as an attempt to deflect his own legal issues? In any case, we can now draw the curtain closed on one of the more colorful and odd characters of the past decade as he rides off into the sunset.

I’m not really clear on the “why,” but I got a rather lengthy eMail late yesterday which took me task for not talking more about a specific religious denomination that the writer clearly doesn’t like and demanding to know if I support “them” since I have not been critical of “them.” Which is really odd because they are the only religious group that ever actually tried to get me fired, for something that I did not say, but one of my guests did. Seriously, multipage eMails to my then General Manager demanding everything from an apology (NO) to my termination (also, NO).

Still, I wasn’t really clear about why I got this eMail yesterday, purporting to give me all of the “inside secrets” of the religious beliefs and how this should alarm me into action. It doesn’t really matter what religion (oddly, not the PLRI), because at the end of the day, I think that I have been abundantly clear about where I stand on faith. In this country, you have the right to your faith and the freedom to express it. I will defend that to the death. What you don’t have is a right or the freedom to do is force anybody else to believe as you do.

So as for this eMail, (a) I grew up in an area of the country where this particular denomination is quite prevalent. There is nothing in your eMail that I didn’t already know. (b) I don’t really care. (c) If you want to condemn other people who don’t believe what you believe, you’ll have to start with me, because I don’t believe what you believe. Nor do I want you too. (d) The interwebs are wide open, start your own show condemning other people to your hearts content. Just to show you that I’m fair, I’ll be happy to put you on the Podcast 99 Network. Right next to the show that tears your ideas apart.

121616-1931409_1061599830361_8314_nLastly, some “Dave Facts” that you will need to know before you follow the rest of today’s missive:

  • Of all the sports I have played in an organized fashion, hockey – both on ice and on inline skates – was my favorite game to play. The game required me to learn skills and push myself to limits that no other sport did on as consistent a basis as hockey did. The best time of my hockey career, during which I played in 15 Championship games and won 10 of those, was with the Mavericks. A collection of players other teams didn’t really want and came together to play the best hockey of which I’ve ever been a part.
  • My favorite NHL Team is the Montréal Canadians. The team I have always hated the most is the Detroit Red Wings.
  • My favorite player has always been Patrick Roy.
  • My all time favorite professional team was the Atlanta Knights, with their goalie J.C. Bergeron, a Roy clone. From 1991-1996 I attended at least 100 games, including Game 6 of the 1994 Turner Cup Championship which the Knights won over the Ft. Worth Komets. It was the single loudest arena I have even been in. Period. Nothing else – not even the Kingdome – has been  even close.

Yesterday was one of those “just stay inside” kind of days, and after I got Ben to school I sat down in front of the TV and caught another showing of The Force Awakens. I am more convinced than ever that Rey has to be Luke’s daughter, but that’s a discussion for another day when I can talk to John.

As the film ended, my attention was caught by another film, a documentary titled, “Red Army.” It tells the story of The Russian Five, primarily from the viewpoint of Slava Fetisov, with archival footage rarely seen in the West and interviews with the men and their countrymen today. During the height of the final days of the Cold War – my war – The Russian Five were the pinnacle of Soviet success in sport. They also were the same men who had lost in 1980 to the Americans at Lake Placid. As we imagined at the time, life was not good for them after that, despite two more Olympic Gold Medals in 84 and 88, Multiple World Championships and absolutely blistering the NHL teams they faced in the “Super Series.”

For me, it was a fascinating look inside the crumbling Soviet Union of the mid to late 1980’s. While I was at sea, Fetisov and his line mates were trying to get out, but, unlike Alexander Molgilny, they could not bring themselves to defect. While in the US for a Super Series game against the team he would play for in the NHL, the New Jersey Devils, the owner of the Devils tried to convince Fetisov to defect. There was no way the Soviets were going to keep their public promise to let him come to the US to play, so he should just leave when he had the chance.

He didn’t.

The sense of duty and patriotism was deeply ingrained. He could not, as he put it, do something that was “illegal.” And so he stayed in the Soviet Union, still an outcast since he refused to play for the National Team. Eventually – and I don’t want to give spoilers – he was able to leave the USSR on his own terms and played for nine seasons in the NHL, winning two Stanley Cups and one more as an assistant Coach.

What impressed me is something that I have long believed but rarely do we get to see, and that is the humanity of our enemies. Much like the film “K-19, The Widowmaker” we get to see our enemies as men, not as political constructs. While the Russian Five yearn for the same freedoms we have in the West, they also have a sense of duty and love of their homeland that compels them to take really bad deals to get to the NHL – some of them give as much as 90% of their salary back to Soviet Government – and not defect as younger players have begun to do around them. Remember, these are the old Vets of Soviet Hockey, the men who played at the height of the Tikonov era, and who can never forget that one game they lost in February of 1980.

Kaptain of the team "Red Army" in 2004

Kaptain of the team “Red Army” in 2004

It was absolutely fascinating. To me. I guess if you don’t like hockey or aren’t a Cold War historian, maybe it doesn’t mean much. But for me, and I always believed this, the men of the Soviet Armed Forces were every bit as faithful and committed as we were. It’s just nice sometimes to see them as such instead of being portrayed as the propagandized “New Soviet Man” we heard so much bullshit about.

You have to wonder how much things might have been different if we had had the chance to see things that way back in the mid 1980’s? I have to think that had I known his full story, Fetisov might have been my favorite player. Maybe I would have tolerated the Red Wings a bit more. I wore the Number 2 much of my career, perhaps in honor of a player for whom I should have been cheering. 

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Posted on December 16, 2016, in 1st Amendment, 1st Amendment, 2016 Presidential, Constitution, Elections, History, Obama, Putin, Religion, Submarines, US Navy, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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