In September of 1990, the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota North Stars travelled to the USSR as part of their training camp for the 90-91 season. It was a long way to go for a training camp, but there’s a lot of NHL fans over there, and in particular, Montreal Canadiens fans, and this was a once in a lifetime chance for folks there to see these players in living colour.
Minnesota won only one of four games, but Montreal beat Leningrad SKA 5-3, Dynamo Riga 4-2, and Moscow Red Army 4-1. But they lost 4-1 to Dynamo Moscow.
In semi-related news, I mentioned in a previous post about a Russian Montreal Canadiens fan club of which I became an honorary member in 1991, but years later I was walking the back streets of St. Petersburg and came across a restaurant called “The Montreal Canadiens Club.” I went in and there was a dance floor with a giant mural of the Montreal skyline, and also a souvenir booth selling Habs pucks and pins and such. And the waitresses wore team jerseys. Eventually this place closed down because it was really expensive, much too much for the average Russian citizen. But they managed to bring the entire Legends of Hockey team there for a big due and there were a lot of pictures of Frank Mahovlich, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, and other NHL stars getting tipsy and eyeballing the waitresses.
A few weeks after discovering this place I brought my friends there for dinner and it was great fun. I drank too much vodka, and spent way beyond my budget, but we needed to do this. How often does one eat at a Montreal Canadiens restaurant in St. Petersburg, Russia?