Red Penguins Hockey After Fall of U.S.S.R. Documentary

pens documentary

Red Penguins is Gabe Polsky's follow-up documentary to Red Army, about the Soviet Union’s hockey team and how it was utilized for the purposes of government propaganda during the Cold War era. However, this time around we see the Red Army has gone broke because of the collapse of the Soviet Union and it is up to the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mario Lemieux and Michael J. Fox to inject some much needed funds into the dying club.

In 1993, the Stanley Cup champion Penguins bought a 50% stake in what would be branded the Russian Penguins. Steve Warshaw was dispatched to handle marketing in a country where corporate logos on the side boards were unheard-of. The Americans viewed Russian professional sports, and the advertising that came with them, as an opportunity for feeding players to the N.H.L. and for providing stateside corporations with inroads to the new Russian market.

But first they needed to lure fans to the Moscow arena, which required gimmicks like strippers, free beer and a Gorbachev-Yeltsin look-alike contest.

Equal parts hilarious and chilling, Red Penguins showcases the wildest aspects of running a professional sports franchise in Russia while detailing the danger and sadness that can be a consequence of doing business parallel to an organized crime syndicate.

Gabe Polsky, who is the son of Soviet immigrants to the United States, believes American hockey fans and sports fans in general can get a unique look at the complicated relationship between the two world superpowers, and how that dynamic both brought the Penguins immense popularity in Russia and led to their ultimate downfall.

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