Pesut Was The Pioneer

So, if VIKTOR NECHAEV was the first Soviet player to compete in the National Hockey League — who, then, was the first from the NHL to skate with a Soviet player as a member of the same team?

It is unclear if the world-reknowned hockey patron, Colonel Moammar El Qaddafi of Libya, would have knowledge of such information. One way or the other, oddly enough, the player in question was one of those who donned the infamous “Gruen Buch” (Green Book) jerseys for the West German Bundesliga team ECD Iserlohn that the Libyan leader sponsored briefly back during the 1987-88 season.

This player would be, of course, the one-time Pittsburgh Penquins second round pick and California Golden Seals defenseman — GEORGE PESUT.

Pesut, having spent the previous season with the Edmonton Oilers’ farm club, the Wichita Wind of the old Central Hockey League, signed to skate the 1981-82 season for EHC Hamburg in the 2.Bundesliga of West Germany. It was there that the rearguard teamed with Soviet forward ALEXEI MISHIN to complete the first East-West tandem of its kind in hockey’s history.

“Alexei was one hell of a player,” George Pesut wrote in an e-mail to the IRONPIGPEN recently.

Mishin was a crack veteran of Soviet Elite League play, having spent the majority of his time with the Torpedo Gorky club. At the conclusion of the 1970-71 schedule, Mishin was chosen as one of the league’s “Best 34 Players” by Soviet hockey officials and was rewarded with a transfer to the powerful army club, CSKA Moscow, for the following year. The right winger was unable, however, to establish himself as a regular and was soon on his way back to the Torpedo club in Gorky, where he continued to flourish in the top flight of Soviet hockey.

For his career, Mishin scored 185 goals in Soviet Elite League play and with that total stood an impressive 35th on the all-time list in the USSR at the time of his transfer to West Germany. This despite not having spent significant time with one of the traditional powerhouses from Moscow.

Even with 35-year-old skating legs, Mishin still stood out for EHC Hamburg in the second divison :

2.Bundesliga : Goals-Per-Game
56 goals, 32 games, 1.75 gpg — Alexei MISHIN – EHC Hamburg – (USSR)
78 goals, 46 games, 1.70 gpg — Nelson PYATT – VERE Selb
69 goals, 48 games, 1.44 gpg — Ken BAIRD – SC Duisburg
79 goals, 56 games, 1.41 gpg — Chris HELLAND – SC Deggendorf
67 goals, 50 games, 1.34 gpg — Rick HINDMARCH – SC Deggendorf
67 goals, 52 games, 1.29 gpg — Ken KRENTZ – SC Duisburg
51 goals, 42 games, 1.21 gpg — Jiri KOCHTA – EHC Munich 70 – (CSSR)
51 goals, 46 games, 1.11 gpg — Jim MURPHY – EV Augsburg
47 goals, 43 games, 1.09 gpg — Dave SHERLOCK – EC Bad Toelz
41 goals, 38 games, 1.08 gpg — Pentti HIIROS – EV Landsberg – (FIN)
41 goals, 41 games, 1.00 gpg — Ken KUZYK – EV Krefeld
35 goals, 35 games, 1.00 gpg — Joachim RIED – EV Landsberg

Pyatt, at the time 28, was a veteran of 296 National Hockey League games (71 go 63 as, 134 pts) for the Detroit Red Wings, Washington Capitals and Colorado Rockies.

Baird, then 31, was, like Pesut, a former NHL 2nd round pick who, again, as did George, play in the National Hockey League for the California Golden Seals (10 ga, 0 g 2 as). The Flin Flon native spent most of his North American pro career playing for the World Hockey Association’s Edmonton Oilers (332 ga, 91 go 99 as, 190 pts).

Mishin ultimately returned to the Soviet Union and became an assistant coach for his old club, Torpedo Gorky.


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