Detroit Free Press Sports Writer Keith Gave presents The Russian Five
Meet long-time Detroit Free Press sports writer Keith Gave as he presents his fascinating book The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery, and Courage, a gripping story featuring our beloved Detroit Red Wings! Five former Soviet hockey players who wound up in Detroit in the 1990s and helped to catapult a beleaguered hockey franchise to the top of the summit played a pivotal role in that city’s celebrated comeback. They are The Russian Five, and while they changed their sport forever they also helped bridge rival cultures with their unique style of diplomacy. This is their remarkable story of espionage, defection, heartbreak and triumph – and remarkable courage after a fateful limo crash nearly killed one of them. Mitch Albom calls The Russian Five “a whirlwind story that is at times fantastical, gripping, emotional and even humorous.”
About the Author
Keith Gave spent six years in the United States Army as a Russian linguist working for the National Security Agency during the Cold War. Nothing could have better prepared him for a career as a sports writer covering hockey for the Detroit Free Press. His 15 years with the newspaper were the highlight of a career spanning nearly four decades in the news industry. He also served as writer/producer for the soon-to-be-released documentary film, “The Russian Five.” He lives in Roscommon, Michigan, where he continues to write when he’s not sneaking off to cast a fly to the trout on his home waters of the Au Sable River.
Praise for The Russian Five
“Keith Gave, always a terrific reporter, had a front row seat to the most fascinating and colorful chapter of Red Wings history – the Russian Five. At times, he was smack in the middle of it, as an envoy, Russian-speaker and secret-keeper. No one could write this story with the detail, depth and understanding that Gave delivers. The result is a whirlwind story that is at times fantastical, gripping, emotional and even humorous. This book was a long time in the making, but well worth the wait.”
─Mitch Albom, columnist, Detroit Free Press
“The ultimate inside story” – Doc Emrick, Hall of Fame broadcaster
“Part thriller, part memoir, part Russian fairytale come true, this is an important book”
– Dan Milstein, best-selling author and NHL player agent.
About The Russian Five
When the Detroit Red Wings were rebooting their franchise after more than two decades of relative futility, they knew the best place to find world-class players who could help turn things around more quickly were conscripted servants behind the Iron Curtain.
All they had to do then was make history by drafting them, then figure out how to get them out. That’s when the Wings turned to Keith Gave, the newsman whose clandestine mission to Helsinki, Finland, was the first phase of a of a years-long series of secret meetings from posh hotel rooms to remote forests around Europe to orchestrate their unlawful departures from the Soviet Union.
One defection created an international incident and made global headlines. Another player faked cancer, thanks to the Wings’ extravagant bribes to Russian doctors, including a big American car. Another player who wasn’t quite ready to leave yet felt like he was being kidnapped by an unscrupulous agent. Two others were outcast when they stood up publicly against the Soviet regime, winning their freedom to play in the NHL only after years of struggle.
They are the Russian Five: Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Vladimir Konstantinov, Vyacheslav Kozlov and Igor Larionov. Their individual stories read like pulse-pounding spy novels. The story that unfolded after they were brought together in Detroit by the masterful coach Scotty Bowman is unforgettable.