Nikolai Drozdetsky

Nikolai Drozdetsky was an explosive left winger with the old Soviet Red Army teams of the 1980s. However he is not very well known among North American audiences.

He first debuted at major competition after the Soviet failure at Lake Placid. His first major debut as far as North Americans are concerned is the 1981 Canada Cup, though he also played in the 1981 World Championships earlier that year. That same year he finished second to Sergei Makarov in Soviet league scoring and was considered to be a big part of the Red Army's future.

Drozdetsky was the star of the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. His 10 goals in 7 games helped lead the Soviets to the gold medal and helped get him named as the Soviet player of the year that year, ahead of names like Vladislav Tretiak, Sergei Makarov and Viacheslav Fetisov.

However his situation was far from rosy. Drozdetsky was not one of coach Victor Tikhonov's favorites, despite his scoring exploits. Life was never easy in the Soviet Union, but especially not easy if Tikhonov didn't like you.

Tikhonov deliberately left Drozdetsky off of the 1984 Canada Cup team that finish second to Canada. Drozdetsky was said to be at home nursing an undisclosed injury.

That appeared to be the last straw in the strained relationship. Drozdetsky fought to get his release from the Red Army team. By 1987 he joined SKA Leningrad. And by 1989 he was given permission to pursue a career in Sweden.

Drozdetsky joined a second division Swedish team named Boras. There Drozdetsky played with former NHLer Stefan Person. Drozdetsky was easily the most exciting player in the league, leading the league in scoring the first two years in the league. Drozdetsky spent a total of 6 years in Sweden, though he slowed as he aged over the years.

The story of Drozdetsky took a tragic turn in 1995. Drozdetsky had been diagnosed with Diabetes, and while visiting his mother back in Russia, he fell into a coma, never to wake up.

Nikolai Drozdetsky was survived by his wife and two children. One of his children, Alexander, was drafted in the third round of the 2000 NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, though he has never left Russia.

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