'Red Penguins' tells story of how Pittsburgh Penguins bought the Russian national hockey team

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Friday, August 14, 2020
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The Soviet Union collapsed, and a historic hockey team was in trouble. Enter the capitalists and their marketing plan!

CHICAGO (WLS) -- "Red Penguins" is the true story of hockey gone wild. An American team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, buys the acclaimed Red Army on Ice. Suddenly gangsters, con men and cash are all part of the game.

Chicago-born director Gabe Polsky's film shows how, in the wake of the Soviet Union collapse, the revived Russian national hockey team became a magnet for corruption.

"It really wasn't about what was happening on the ice, it wasn't about the amazing hockey, it was more about this relationship between the Americans and Russian ownership and the army and the mafia," he said.

There were some tense times during the shoot, like when a KGB prosecutor was too candid.

"All of the sudden five policemen show up and tell us there's a bomb in the area that we have to immediately leave where we're shooting, and that was the end of that interview and I was a little shaken up," Polsky recalled.

Polsky is the son of Soviet immigrants and played hockey growing up on the North Shore. He's also not banned in Russia, at least not as far as he knows.

"Maybe they'll think, well, it's good the Americans never succeeded, you see!" he said.