History of Russian Hockey – Part 1

The original version of hockey in Russia since the 1890s was called “bandy.” It was played with a small ball instead of a puck and had the rules of field hockey. Ice hockey was introduced to the Soviet Union in the 1930s and became a national sport following the Second World War. The Russian game of ice hockey was different from the Canadian. A lot of bandy rules were adopted and the philosophy of the game was different.

An early Red Army squad (late 1930s)

An early Red Army squad (late 1930s)

An early Red Army squad (early 1940s)

An early Red Army squad (early 1940s)

The legendary coach Anatoli Tarasov

The legendary coach Anatoli Tarasov

Trainer Arkady Chernyshev

Trainer Arkady Chernyshev

When Anatoli Tarasov became a coach, he changed Russian hockey forever. He masterminded creating his own version of hockey – a game of speed, endurance and winning. He was the master of the team and his players were like chess pieces. When the USSR entered its first team into the World Championship in 1954, they won. Likewise, the Soviet team finished first at the 1956 Olympics. Once Tarasov took over the national team’s reigns, the “CCCP” team won gold at the World Championships in Stockholm in 1963. That was just the beginning of nine consecutive World Championship victories, through to 1971. During that timespan, the Soviet Union also won eight European Championships and three consecutive Olympic gold medals (1964, 1968, 1972). The Soviet hockey program was recognized as the premier in the world and earned the nickname “The Big Red Machine.” Tarasov also coached the Central Sports Club of the Army (CSKA), to seventeen league championships from 1947 to 1974. Tarasov’s colleague – Arkady Chernyshev also played an influential role in the development of Soviet hockey.

1956: first Olympics, first hockey gold for the USSR

1956: first Olympics, first hockey gold for the USSR

Russia's first hockey superstar - Vsevolod Bobrov

Russia's first hockey superstar - Vsevolod Bobrov

The athletic pioneers of the sport were Vsevolod Bobrov and Viktor Shuvalov. Bobrov was a rare star in multiple sports – football and hockey. He captained both the Soviet football team at the 1952 Olympics and the ice hockey national team at the 1956 Olympics. Nonetheless, Bobrov achieved greater success as a hockey player. Shortly after joining the Soviet Air Force hockey team (VVS) managed by Stalin’s son, Vasili, in 1950, Bobrov narrowly avoided death. The airplane carrying the team to Sverdlovsk crashed on approach, but Bobrov was lucky to have overslept on that day and missed the flight. Once the VVS team seized to exist following Stalin’s death, Bobrov finished his career with CSKA. In 130 league games Bobrov scored an astonishing 254 goals, as well as 89 goals in 59 games playing for the national team! Bobrov remained a key trainer until 1979.


Anatoli Firsov

The next torch-carrier of Soviet hockey was Anatoli Firsov. He was a forward and played from 1958 to 1974. Firsov was one of the best hockey players ever because of his brilliant skills and extremely hard slapshot. He also innovated many of the moves that today’s forwards use to beat defenders. Firsov started his career with Spartak, and in 1961 joined CSKA, with which he went on to win the Soviet championship nine times. In 474 games, Firsov scored 344 goals. Firsov also won Olympic gold three times (1964, 1968, 1972), the World Championship eight times (1964-71), and was named Best Forward at the World Championship in 1967 and 1971.

To be continued…


14 Responses to “History of Russian Hockey – Part 1”

  1. January 18, 2011 at 14:26

    I would like to see the Russians prepare thoroughly in its TACTICAL and PHYSICAL CONDITIONING methods like the great Soviet teams of the past so I can see the Russian Ice Hockey team at its very best during the next Winter Olympics in 2014!

  2. March 11, 2011 at 13:06

    Yes, the physical conditioning methods of coaches like Chernyshev, Tarasov, and Tikhonov played arguably the primary role in the Soviet national team’s successes. Players used to train together 11 months per year. This is impossible now with the nature of NHL/KHL scheduling.

  3. March 12, 2011 at 14:10

    I am hopeful someday that the Russians could make a schedule for themselves to have enough time to work on the PHYSICAL CONDITIONING and TACTICS of their Ice Hockey teams.I have noticed the Russians over recent years have played much better during the iihf World Championships including that 27 game winning streak that they had.Does anybody know why the Russians are playing so well right now?

  4. 4 christine
    January 13, 2012 at 21:47

    You say in this article that the russian philosophy was different. What was the Russian philosophy? Love to know. A mile dedicated to the Canadian hockey history. A milimeter dedicated to the Russian. Please way more. They deserve it I think.

  5. October 13, 2014 at 00:44

    Недавно наткнулся на интересный сайт с фото ню из vk, vkdevki.ru vkdevki.ru, Cайтик очень понравился и я просмотрел его до конца.В нём много видео 18+ а также,

  6. June 30, 2017 at 01:57

    The modern history of Russian hockey began in Soviet occupied Lithuania, in the city of Kaunas sports arena in 1946, December 22 at exactly 1:02 pm.

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Welcome to Russkiy Hockey! This website is dedicated to the most talented Russian hockey players who bring a different game to the NHL - a game of speed, creativity, and discipline. On this site you can find out about the careers and accomplishments of these athletes, as well as about the history of Russian hockey, the latest stats of Russian hockey players, and the national team's successes at international tournaments. Enjoy your visit!


October 2009

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