HNIC

Hockey Night In Canada Podcast: Russia's NHL evolution from Mogilny to Ovi

This week, the Hockey Night in Canada podcast takes a closer look at the evolution of Russian players in the NHL and how a couple of key moments helped define their growth within the game.

Russian players have come a long way since Meehan brought Mogilny to North America

Alexander Ovechkin became the first Russian captain to win the Stanley Cup (The Associated Press/John Locher)

When Canadians were introduced to Russian hockey at the Summit Series in 1972, many were surprised at the skill and grace the Soviet's exuded.

They rarely retaliated when they were met with physical adversity. Their stoic nature was amazing to watch, but they were labelled as "soft". Many experts thought you couldn't win a Stanley Cup with Russians on the roster.

Boy, have things changed. This past season, Alex Ovechkin became the first Russian player to captain his team to the Stanley Cup. He also won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. 

On this episode of the Hockey Night in Canada podcast, we are talking about the evolution of the Russian hockey player in the NHL.

WATCH | Meehan talks about bringing Mogilny to the NHL:

This week's episode focuses the evolution of Russian hockey in the NHL. 1:59

We spoke to former Sabres general manager Gerry Meehan, who was involved in a James Bond-like mission to bring Russia's Alexander Mogilny to the United States.

We also chat with Ken Holland, who has been with the Detroit Red Wings for 36 years as a scout and GM. He was directly involved in getting some big-name Russians into the NHL.

Those Russians played an integral part in the Red Wings championships in 1997, 1998 and 2002.

The Hockey Night In Canada podcast is a weekly CBC Sports production.

In each episode, host Rob Pizzo is joined by colourful characters within hockey to discuss great moments and great players and talk about today's stars. The Hockey Night podcast brings you beyond the boxscore with insight you won't find anywhere else.

Be sure to subscribe to the Hockey Night in Canada podcast to get a new episode each week. It's available on iTunes, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Tune In or wherever you get your podcasts.

Listen to previous Hockey Night podcasts

Episode 19:

The Leaf's long drought turns hockey lovers maroon with pain in Toronto, but what can we learn from the lean times? And is there a glimmer of hope in that five year horizon presented by the Auston Matthews' signing?

Episode 18:

Scott Russell fills in for host Rob Pizzo and talks to three legendary voices of the game. Jim Robson, Dick Irvin and Joe Bowen's narratives have brought the game to life for so many fans. 

Episode 17:

Former Hockey Night In Canada reporter Scott Russell, who was a broadcaster at 10 all-star games, joins us to discuss his favourite moments.

Episode 16:

Chirping has been a big part of the game for years, so we get a crash course in the good, the bad and the ugly of it from one of the NHL's all-time best trash-talkers Matthew Barnaby. 

Episode 15: 

Women are coaching, scouting, broadcasting and being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. But more can be done. Why not a female referee, head coach or general manager in the NHL? Hayley Wickenheiser shares her insight. 

Episode 14:

With the NHL season reaching the halfway point, it's time to take a look the highs and lows of the year so far. Stanley Cup champion Glenn Healy helps breakdown what has transpired so far this season. 

Episode 13:

We take a look back at the best interviews of 2018, which includes Daniel Carcillo opening up about the hazing he experienced as a member of the Sarnia Sting. 

Episode 12: 

Hockey books are the perfect gift for any rabid fan and Jay Baruchel, Ken Reid and James Duthie have a few suggestions that should cover anyone on your holiday lists. 

Episode 11:  

The NHL recently confirmed that when the 2021-22 season begins, there will be 32 teams in the league. We take a closer look at Seattle's expansion bid, the history of expansion, as well as the future of expansion.

Episode 10: 

The axe has fallen on four coaches and one general manager so far this season, but we sometimes forget that coaches are human and have families. Former NHL coach Barry Melrose breaks down what life is like for coaches after they're fired. 

Episode 9:

Hazing has been an accepted part of hockey for decades now. But recently some disturbing stories have come into the public eye. Stories that involved abuse, bullying, and some horrible behaviour … all disguised as "hazing."

Episode 8: 

They're a unique breed — the keepers of the crease are often known to be a little eccentric. Ilya Bryzgalov joins in to help explain what makes them so different from their teammates. 

Episode 7:

Recent HHOF inductee Jayna Hefford joins Pizzo to break down the 2018 class, while selection committee member Brian Burke sheds some light on who the most important person in the game is — and it may not be who you think. 

Episode 6:

Pizzo sits down with Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean to talk about the top storylines one month into the season and MacLean also fuels the debate over who the best player in the game is right now. 

Episode 5:

Hockey fans depend on certain trusted insiders to get their breaking news, but how exactly do they get these scoops? Turns out it's harder work than some might expect. 

Episode 4:

The fans love seeing the puck in the net...so what about the poor guys between the pipes? Are they getting pummelled for the sake of rule-tinkering?

Episode 3:

Could there be a more thankless gig? Perfection means being ignored. A single mistake and you are marked for years of noisy abuse. Don Koharski officiated over 1,700 regular season games. He and Pizzo discuss the infamous "donut incident".

Episode 2:

Rivalries are the heart and soul of NHL excitement, but the days of brawling are mostly a thing of the past. Chris Nilan and Kris Draper talk about those old grudges, while some current players insist rivalries are as hot as ever.

Episode 1: 

At the beginning of every NHL season, hockey fans generally have more questions than answers when it comes to their favourite teams — and the start of the 2018-19 campaign was no different. Pizzo tackled five burning questions on the minds of the hockey faithful.