The Russian Five (Paperback)

A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage

By Keith Gave

Gold Star Publishing, 9781949709582, 288pp.

Publication Date: February 18, 2020

Other Editions of This Title:
Hardcover (3/20/2018)

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


When the Detroit Red Wings were rebooting their franchise after more than two decades of relative futility, they knew the best place to look for world-class players was behind the Iron Curtain. That’s when the Wings turned to Keith Gave, the newsman whose clandestine mission to Helsinki, Finland was the first phase of a years-long series of secret meetings from posh hotel rooms to remote forests around Europe to orchestrate the hockey players' 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. Another player, who wasn’t quite ready to leave, 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, but their convergence in Detroit under the masterful coach Scotty Bowman is unforgettable.This book includes newly uncovered details from the man who was there every step of the way—from the day Detroit drafted its first two Soviets in 1989 until they raised the Stanley Cup in 1997, then took it to Moscow for a victory lap around Red Square and the Kremlin.

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, then began a career as a sports writer covering hockey for the Detroit Free Press. He also served as writer/producer for the soon-to-be-released documentary film, The Russian Five.