June 10, 2002
2:21 PM   Subscribe

The Stanley Cup finals -- a perfect time to reflect on what we know about the extortion of former Eastern bloc players in the NHL by Russian organized crime groups. A 1999 Frontline/Fifth Estate joint investigation lays it out nicely, including an eye-opening interview with a U.S. sports marketer who was run out of the Russian hockey world by mob greed. Also check the story of investigative reporter Robert I. Friedman, author of the alarming (some say alarmist) book Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America, the subject of a detailed eXile review here.
posted by mediareport (3 comments total)
[hijack] Anyone see the Wings/Canes game the other day? Three overtimes! It was awesome! [/hijack] Great link though, especially the interview.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:39 PM on June 10, 2002

I'm glad no ones extorting someone like...steven segal.
posted by clavdivs at 2:45 PM on June 10, 2002

One of my favorite players from my favorite team, Alexei Zhitnik, was the target of the Russian Mafia at one point. During one season his play was getting pretty sloppy and he was making all kinds of dumb mistakes - which, of course, caused many fans to boo him and start screaming for him to be traded. I wonder how they felt when they found out that the Russian Mafia had kidnapped his grandmother and were threatening to kill her unless he paid the ransom they demanded? No wonder the guy's mind wasn't on the game! Luckily, things worked out for the best and they were apprehended - and Alexei's play has gone back to his usual excellence...it's sad to see these people who should be heros and role models in the homeland exploited by people whose lack of talent and/or honor makes them resort to such activites.
posted by RevGreg at 3:46 PM on June 10, 2002

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