reads like an international political spy thriller. A must-read for fans who want to know about the history of the game, who some of the great European players were, and the development of the global game as we know it today."—Mike Smith
, former General Manager, Chicago Blackhawks, Winnipeg Jets, and USA Hockey
Until the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of the Soviet Union, athletes in Eastern Europe were prized as national heroes and afforded relative luxuries compared to other citizens. Better food, nicer apartments, the ability to travel, possibly even a car. But they still lived under the heel of a system that punished even the slightest transgressions or resistance to authority. Many accepted the conditions at home, but some sought a good life—not just a relatively better one. Risking imprisonment, retaliation against their families, or worse, a slow trickle of extremely talented hockey players defected to the West, seeking a life in North America with the NHL that they couldn't achieve elsewhere. Tal Pinchevsky traces their lives and the paths and dangers they faced, based on interviews he conducted with the players, their families, and the many people who helped them to break away.