Former Detroit News scribe and current Michigan Radio correspondent John U. Bacon shared a story from his new book, “The Best of Bacon: Select Cuts.” Today, Bacon tells the story of Slava Fetsiov’s decision to fight for his freedom to leave the Big Red Machine:
Sometime this summer, Detroit’s 39-year old defenseman Slava Fetisov will have to decide whether to return to the Red Wings for one final season, play somewhere else, or retire. For many players, this would be the toughest decision of their lives.
For Slava Fetisov, it’s almost trivial.
Just a few days past New Year’s 1989, Fetisov sat in a room at the Hilton Hotel in East Rutherford, New Jersey, debating the decision of a lifetime.
The Red Army leader and his team were in the middle of the “Super Series,” a two-week run of exhibition games against NHL teams. A few hours before that night’s game against the New Jersey Devils, their general manager, Lou Lamoriello, tried to convince Fetisov to defect right then and there, to leave his title, his team, and his homeland behind forever. But if Fetisov agreed, there would be no going back.