Sports History On This Day: March 29

March 29, 1989 – It was a historic moment in sports when the first athletes from the Soviet Union were allowed to play professionally for North American sports franchises. A 25-year-old Soviet skater named Sergei Pryakhin who played for the 1986 Soviet National team was allowed to sign with the NHL’s Calgary Flames. Standing 6′ – 3″ tall and weighing in at 210 pounds he was the prototypical size the League teams looked for to play as a winger.

Pryakhin was not the first Russian-born player to skate in the NHL. That distinction belongs to David Shriner who was born in Saratov, in a province of the Russian Empire in 1911. Although his family emigrated from the Russian Empire when he was still a baby, he had the honor of becoming the first “Russian” in the NHL just before World War II started.

The early 1990s saw a bunch of former Soviet Union players come to play in the NHL and Eastern Block players still star alongside men from all over the world in a truly international game of professional NHL hockey. For more on great players in the game of hockey check our Warren Rogan’s SHN program of Sports Forgotten Heroes.

To find more great daily sports history make sure to check out the Sports Jersey Dispatch and Pigskin Dispatch.

photo of Russian Silver medal for hockey with players in background
The photo is courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, in the public domain Special thanks to the resources of and for the information obtained.

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