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January 16, 2014

International Hockey Legends of the Day

Each day until the Sochi Olympics I will be highlighting two international hockey legends. One will be Russian, the other will be an international star. 

Russian Hockey Legend of the Day

Nikolai KhlystovAnother of the earliest Soviet hockey greats was Nikolai Khlystov. Khlystov played in the shadows of the likes of Vsevolod Bobrov, Yevgeny Babich and Soviet Wings and national team linemate Alexei Guryshev.

Khlystov's bread and butter was his skating ability. The great book Kings of the Ice says "he had a unique skating technique that was natural and effortless." He had great first step quickness and was agile as a deer. He was not much bigger than a deer either, standing 5'5" and weighing 140lbs. 

Not only was Khlystov fast, but he could handle the puck at high speeds. He was an early stickhandling wizard, using his stick quickly to feint moves left and right, fooling more than a few defensemen.
Here's the full Nikolai Khlystov biography.

International Hockey Legend of the Day

Randy GreggGregg likely figured his hockey days would be over once school was done, and he'd focus on his medical career. However things didn't quite work out that way. During one of his final games in his final year, Gregg was approached by Father David Bauer - the legendary hockey coach who created the Canadian National Team program. Bauer was looking for players for the 1980 Olympic Games.

"I was extremely intrigued by him" said Gregg. "He'd already identified some players that he felt might work out in the program and I was lucky enough to be one of them."

Gregg decided to postpone his medical internship and even passed on a $250,000 contract offer (over 2 years) from the New York Rangers to be a part of the Olympic program. For Randy, he had no regrets.

"I wouldn't trade any of it for anything else I could have been doing. We traveled Europe, to Japan; we were incredibly close and we had the benefit of working under a terrific coach, Clare Drake, and under Father Bauer, the team's general manager. The guys played the entire year for $4000!!"

Father Bauer played a huge role in Randy's life.

"Father Bauer's emphasis was on character development, the whole person, not just athletics. When we traveled, he'd encourage us to go to museums, art galleries, to interact with the people around us. There was very little emphasis on winning for its own sake. Which of course just made you want to win all the more for the guy."

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