The Russian Five is the name of two separate but related units of five Russian ice hockey players.

CSKA Moscow and Soviet National TeamEdit

The first, also known as the Green Unit was a unit of players for both the CSKA Moscow and the Soviet national hockey teams during the 1980s. It consisted of Vyacheslav Fetisov and Alexei Kasatonov on defense, Sergei Makarov, Igor Larionov and Vladimir Krutov (also known as the KLM Line) on offense. The five dominated national and international hockey for nearly a decade before being split up when heading to the NHL in the early 1990s.

Detroit Red WingsEdit

The second unit, also known as the Red Army, was a lineup for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1990s. The Russian Five—all hockey legends in their own right in their native Russia—emulated the style of the Soviet Red Army teams that dominated world and Olympic competition during the 1970s, '80s and early '90s with a combination of speed and puck control. Also interestingly to note, the jersey colours of the Red Wings and the Soviet teams are red and white.

Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman put together the unit after finding out that many Soviet teams frequently put their forwards and defensemen together on five-man units. The five skater group comprised Larionov and Fetisov in their respective positions, but also included Sergei Fedorov at (RW), Vyacheslav Kozlov at (LW) and Vladimir Konstantinov on defense.

The Russian Five often noted for their skill and ability on the ice together. Fedorov won the Hart and Selke Trophies in 1994, and the Selke again in 1996, while Konstantinov was runner-up for the Norris Trophy in 1997. The unit playing an instrumental role during the Red Wings' success of that decade. During the 1997 playoffs, the Red Wings went 16–0 when any of the Russians scored a point and 0–4 when they did not, helping the team to win the 1997 Stanley Cup.[1]

The Russian Five would lose one of their members just days after the 1997 Stanley Cup championship, when Konstantinov became involved in a limousine accident, which ended his career and the career of team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov. Fetisov was also injured in the same accident but he recovered and returned in the subsequent 1997–1998 season. The team wore a special patch on their jerseys, which read "Believe," in both English and Russian. This motto helped inspire the team through the 1998 playoffs, resulting in the second of the Wings' back-to-back Stanley Cups.[2]

After the Red Wings acquired Russian defenceman Dmitri Mironov at the 1998 NHL Trade Deadline, a less-successful "Russian Five II" was briefly formed by Fedorov, Larionov, Kozlov, Fetisov and Mironov. Several of these Russians played key roles in Detroit's 2002 Stanley Cup championship.

As of the 2009–10 season, only Sergei Fedorov and Vyacheslav Kozlov are still active, playing for the Metallurg Magnitogorsk and Atlanta Thrashers respectively. Slava Fetisov is currently the Minister of Sport for Russia.


Detroit Red Wings
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Stanley Cups 1936, 1937, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1954, 1955, 1997, 1998, 2002, 2008
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