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Keith Gave spent six years in the NSA during the Cold War, but his most daring mission may have come later, while working as...

Keith Gave spent six years in the NSA during the Cold War, but his most daring mission may have come later, while working as a sports writer. In the late 1980s, Gave was asked by the Detroit Red Wings to reach behind the Iron Curtain and initiate contact with the team’s newest draft picks, two players on the Soviet Union’s famed Red Army hockey club. His hazardous quest helped pave the way for an unforgettable era in hockey, one that would eventually feature five former Soviet players playing together in Detroit, leading their team to an elusive Stanley Cup championship.

Some sensitive and bizarre details of how the Russian Five was assembled were never disclosed before Gave told all in his book The Russian Five: A Story of Espionage, Defection, Bribery and Courage (Gold Star Publishing, 2018), and in the documentary The Russian Five, for which Gave served as a producer. Gave, who covered hockey for the Detroit Free Press for 15 years, talks about how a hockey beat writer ended up writing a real-life spy thriller.


Nathan Bierma is a writer, instructional designer, and voiceover talent in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His website is www.nathanbierma.com.