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RED-FACED REDS
Jay Greenberg
January 15, 1990
Highly touted Soviet players haven't fared very well in the NHL
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January 15, 1990

Red-faced Reds

Highly touted Soviet players haven't fared very well in the NHL

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Defenseman Sergei Starikov came to New Jersey to keep Fetisov company but spent the summer power-eating his way from 212 pounds to 235. Starikov, 31, who was sent to the Devils' farm team in Utica, N.Y., on Dec. 26, merits a D—for his time with New Jersey. He was replaced by Kasatonov, Fetisov's longtime defensive partner with the Red Army and national teams. Kasatonov played superbly in his debut against the Sabres on Jan. 4—give him an I for incomplete—but he and Fetisov don't get along. When Fetisov and Larionov threatened strikes against tyrannical Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov last year, thereby winning the right from the Soviet federation to finish their careers in North America, Kasatonov stayed loyal to his mentor and thus left the others exposed to criticism. "I'm not happy," says Fetisov of Kasatonov's signing. "The situation with the team may be tense."

•Mogilny: B—. Some of the Soviets may master the NHL game in two years, just in time for their marvelous skills to desert them. But by defecting at 20, Mogilny has time and perhaps the best set of legs in hockey on his side. After spending most of the first half of the season trying to beat people one-on-one, he is learning to use his teammates and showing signs of becoming a prolific scorer—he had nine goals and 16 assists through last Saturday. The moral of the Mogilny story is that the team that shopped at the black market by hiring a defector seems to have gotten the best deal.

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