EXCLUSIVE: NBC Sports has acquired and set a premiere date for The Russian Five, a feature documentary about the first five Russians to play hockey together in the NHL. The film will air on November 6, following NBCSN’s Wednesday Night Hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers.
The Russian Five tells the story of how Sergei Fedorov, Slava Fetisov, Vladimir Konstatinov, Slava Kozlov and Igor Larionov defected and then helped transform the Red Wings from perennial losers to back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions. Toward the end of the Cold War in the late ’80s, the Red Wings hatched an audacious plan to draft the best Soviet players from behind the Iron Curtain and help them defect to Detroit. The team snuck them out under cover of night and whisking them to the Motor City where they won the fans’ hearts and changed the way hockey is played in North America forever.
Under legendary coach Scotty Bowman, the Red Wings would win the Stanley Cup in 1996-7 and 1997-98. The pic features home videos, vintage game footage and interviews with several Hockey Hall of Famers.
“As the home of hockey in the U.S., we are always looking for ways to further serve the sport’s passionate fan base,” said Michael Perman, VP Programming at NBC Sports. “The Russian Five is a perfect fit, as it documents the unconventional and dramatic way one of NHL’s most-memorable dynasties was built. Hockey fans will love this film.”
Gold Star released the film theatrically in March, with co-distributors by Lucky Hat Entertainment and Muse Production House. It grossed nearly a half-million dollars.
The Russian Five — which has a 100% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes — is directed by Joshua Riehl, executive produced by Daniel Milstein, and produced by Jenny Feterovich, Steve Bannatyne and Jason Wehling.
“The Russian Five left a lasting legacy on the game of hockey,” Riehl said, “and this documentary dives into not only what they accomplished on the ice to bring the Stanley Cup back to Detroit but also the human side of the story including their incredible journey from the Soviet Union to Detroit that required cloak-and-dagger efforts worthy of your favorite Cold War spy novel.”.