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Alexander Samsonov

Alexander Samsonov



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Alexander Samsonov was born in in Kherson Oblast on 2nd November 1858. After being educated at the Vladimir of Kiev Cadet Corps and elite Nikolaev Cavalry School. In 1876 he joined the Imperial Russian Army. Samsonov fought in the Russo-Turkish War and afterwards he attended the Nikolaevsky Military Academy in St. Petersburg.

On November 4, 1888 he was appointed senior aide to the staff of the 20th Infantry Division, and from July, 1885 to February, 1889 served as Senior Staff Adjutant to the Caucasus Grenadier Division. Samsonov eventually became commandant of the Elisavetgrad Cavalry School.

Samsonov commanded a Cossack cavalry unit during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 and the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905). In 1906, Samsonov became Chief of staff of the Warsaw Military District, and in 1909 was Governor-General of Turkestan. He was also commander of the Semirechye Cossacks.

On the outbreak of the First World War Samsonov was given control of the Second Army for the invasion of East Prussia. Disadvantaged by poor communications and a shortage of supplies, Samsonov's forces were surrounded and destroyed at Tannenberg in August. The German Eighth Army killed or captured most of his troops. It is estimated that only 10,000 of the 150,000 Russian soldiers managed to escape the encirclement. Aware that he had made a terrible tactical error, Samsonov committed suicide on 29th August, 1914.


Battle of Tannenberg begins

On August 26, 1914, the German 8th Army, under the leadership of Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, strikes with lethal force against the advancing Russian 2nd Army, led by General Aleksandr Samsonov, in East Prussia during the opening weeks of the First World War.

In the middle of August 1914, much sooner than had been anticipated, Russia sent two armies into East Prussia, while Germany, according to its war strategy, had the bulk of its forces concentrated to the west, against France. The Russian 1st Army, under General Pavel Rennenkampf, advanced to the northeastern corner of East Prussia, while Samsonov’s 2nd Army made headway into the southwest, planning to join with Rennenkampf’s men and pin the outnumbered German 8th Army between them. After a Russian victory in the Battle of Gumbinnen on August 20, however, Rennenkampf paused to regroup his forces.

Meanwhile, change was afoot behind the German lines: Helmuth von Moltke, chief of the German general staff, chose to replace the previous leader, Maximilian von Prittwitz, after the latter issued a misguided order for a German retreat to the River Vistula, against the advice of his corps commanders. Hindenburg, a retired general of great stature, and Ludendorff, who had just led the German capture of the Belgian fortress of Liege, arrived in East Prussia and immediately authorized an aggressive counter-action against the Russians, previously planned by a senior staff officer in the region, Colonel Max Hoffmann.

Separated by the great Masurian Lakes, the two Russian armies were unable to effectively communicate with each other as to their movements, a circumstance that would prove deadly. Though Ludendorff succumbed to nerves initially, delaying the start of the German attack by one day, Hindenburg was able to calm his subordinate—not for the last time in what would become a fabled partnership. On August 26, after intercepting uuencoded wireless messages from both Samsonov and Rennenkampf, the Germans were able to take Samsonov’s army by surprise with the force of their attack near the village of Tannenberg, to the southwest of the Masurian Lakes. The delay in starting the attack had given Samsonov’s forces more time to advance deeper into the sack formed by the German divisions enveloping them from both sides, the strength of which Samsonov consistently underestimated. After three days of battering by German artillery, Samsonov’s troops began their retreat more German forces cut off their path and a massive slaughter ensued. In the first hours of August 30, confronting the reality of his army’s collapse, Samsonov went into the forest, away from his staff, and shot himself.

In total, over 50,000 Russian soldiers were killed and some 92,000 taken as prisoners in the Battle of Tannenberg—named thus by the Germans in vengeful remembrance of the village, where in 1410 the Poles had defeated the Teutonic Knights. By the end of August, Russia’s ambitious advance in East Prussia in August 1914 had achieved at least one of its goals, albeit at a tremendous cost: two German corps had been removed from the Western to the Eastern Front in order to confront the Russian menace. Though the two corps had not arrived in time to play a role in the Battle of Tannenberg—which would remain the greatest German triumph of the war against Russia on the Eastern Front—they would also be unable to aid their comrades at the Battle of the Marne in early September, when German forces advancing towards Paris were decisively defeated by British and French troops in a crucial victory for the Allies.


Biography [ edit | edit source ]

Samsonov was born in Kherson Province of the Russian Empire in what is now part of the Ukraine. After graduation from the Vladimir of Kiev Cadet Corps and elite Nikolaev Cavalry School, he joined the Imperial Russian Army at age 18 as a cornet in the 12th Hussars Regiment.

Samsonov fought in the Russo-Turkish War, 1877-78. After this war he attended the Nikolaevsky Military Academy in St. Petersburg. On November 4, 1888 he was appointed senior aide to the staff of the 20th Infantry Division, and from July 10, 1885 to February 4, 1889 served as Senior Staff Adjutant to the Caucasus Grenadier Division. From March 11, 1890 through July 26, 1896 he worked at various assignments at the Warsaw Military District. He subsequently became commandant of the Elisavetgrad Cavalry School.

During the Boxer Rebellion (1900), Samsonov commanded a cavalry unit. During the Russo-Japanese War (1904–1905), he commanded a cavalry brigade of the Ussuri Siberian Cossack Division. Through these conflicts Samsonov gained a reputation as an energetic and resourceful leader, but some observers criticized his strategic abilities. After the Battle of Mukden in 1905, he accused General Paul von Rennenkampf of failing to assist him during the fighting. The ensuing quarrel made the two mutual lifetime enemies. In 1906, Samsonov became Chief of staff of the Warsaw Military District, and in 1909 was Governor-General of Russian Turkestan and commander of the Turkestan Military District. He was also commander of the Semirechye Cossacks.

At the start of World War I, Samsonov received the command of the Second Army for the invasion of East Prussia. He advanced slowly into the south-western corner of East Prussia, intending to link up with General Rennenkampf's forces, which had started advancing from the north-east section. However, lack of communication between the two hindered co-ordination.

General (later Field Marshal) Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff, who arrived on the Eastern Front to replace General Maximilian von Prittwitz, engaged Samsonov's advancing forces. They made contact on 22 August and for six days the numerically superior Russians had some success. However, by August 29 the Germans, who were intercepting Russian wireless communications, Ώ] had surrounded Samsonov's Second Army in the woods between Allenstein and Willenberg. The rout that followed was soon dubbed "the (Second) Battle of Tannenberg".

General Samsonov attempted to retreat, but with his army now trapped in a German encirclement, the German Eighth Army killed or captured most of his troops. Only 10,000 of the 150,000 Russian soldiers managed to escape the encirclement. Shocked by the disastrous outcome of the battle and unable to face reporting the scale of the disaster, for which he knew he would be held responsible, to Tsar Nicholas II, Samsonov never arrived back at headquarters he committed suicide on 30 August 1914 near Willenberg. His body was found by a German search party, a bullet wound in his head and a revolver in his hand. ΐ] Α] Β] In 1916 his body was handed over by the Germans to his wife, through the intercession of the International Red Cross.


Alexander Samsonov was born on 14 November 1859 in Andreevka, Kherson Governorate, Russian Empire (present-day Ukraine), and he graduated from the Nikolaev Cavalry School, becoming a cornet (second lieutenant) in the Russian 12th Hussars Regiment. In 1877 he fought in the Russo-Turkish War, and in 1890 he commanded a cavalry unit during the Boxer Rebellion against China. He proceeded to lead the Ussuri Siberian Cossack Division in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, and he became known as an energetic leader, but he began a lifelong rivalry with Paul von Rennenkampf after blaming him for his failure to assist him at the 1905 Battle of Mukden. In 1906, Samsonov was made Chief-of-Staff of the Warsaw Military District and in 1909 served as the leader of the Turkestan Military District and as Governor of Russian Turkestan.

At the start of World War I in 1914, Samsonov was appointed as the commander of the Russian 2nd Army, and along with Rennenkampf he invaded East Prussia, a region of the German Empire. On 29 August 1914 he fought the Germans at the Battle of Tannenberg, with Rennenkampf as his subordinate. On 30 August he shot himself in the head with a revolver, unable to explain his defeat to Czar Nicholas II of Russia. His body was returned to his wife by the International Red Cross.


You've only scratched the surface of Samsonov family history.

Between 1991 and 1992, in the United States, Samsonov life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1992, and highest in 1991. The average life expectancy for Samsonov in 1991 was 89, and 87 in 1992.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Samsonov ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.


Alexander Samsonov

Alexander Samsonov was born in 1859. He joined the Russian Army at 18 and took part in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-78). After the war Samsonov attended the Nikolaevsky Military Academy. He commanded a cavalry unit during the Boxer Rising (1900) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05).

In these wars Samsonov obtained a reputation as an energetic and resourceful leader but some doubted his strategic abilities. After the Battle of Mukden in 1905 accused General Paul von Rennenkampf of letting him down during the fighting and the two men came to blows. After the Russo-Japanese War Samsonov was made Chief-of-Staff of Warsaw Military District and later as military leader in Turkeston.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Samsonov was given command of the Russian Second Army for the invasion of East Prussia. He advanced slowly into the south western corner of the province with the intention of linking up with General Paul von Rennenkampf advancing from the north east.

General Paul von Hindenburg and General Erich Ludendorff were sent forward to meet Samsonov's advancing troops. They made contact on 22nd August and for six days the Russians, with their superior numbers, had a few successes. However, by 29th August, Samsonov's Second Army was surrounded at Tannenberg.

General Samsonov attempted to retreat but now in a German cordon, most of his troops were slaughtered or captured. Only 10,000 of the 150,000 Russian soldiers managed to escape. Shocked by the disastrous outcome of the battle, Alexander Samsonov committed suicide on 29th August.


Presidential Library

Cavalry General Alexander Samsonov was born 2 (14) November 1859, in the village of Andreevka, Yaakimovskaya parish, Elisavetgrad county, Kherson province, in the impoverished noble family.

In 1875, Alexander graduated from the Vladimir military school in Kiev in 1877 - Nikolaev Cavalry School, and then was sent to the 12th Akhtyrsky Hussars Regiment, which participated in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878. After graduating from the Academy of the General Staff, Samsonov served in the Caucasus, then, in 1896 and 1904, headed the Elisavetgrad School.

As a cavalry chief, Major General Samsonov took part in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904-1905, commanding the Ussuri Cavalry Brigade, then the Siberian Cossack Division. He successfully fought near Vafangou and Liaoyang, the river Shahe and Mukden. For military merits Alexander was awarded the Order of St. George 4th degree and other orders, a Golden Wword with the inscription "For Bravery", was promoted to lieutenant general.

After the war, Samsonov served as chief of staff of the Warsaw Military District. In 1907, he became the ataman of the Don Cossack Army, and in 1909 he was appointed Governor-General of Turkestan, and commanded the troops of the Turkestan Military District, being promoted in 1910 to general of cavalry. From March 1909 he had been the ataman of Semirechensk Cossack Army.

With the outbreak of World War I , Samsonov was at the head of the 2nd Army of the North-Western Front, which was given the task in conjunction with the 1st Army General P. K. Rennenkampf to make an invasion of East Prussia . Historian A. Kersnovsky, noting impeccable personal bravery of Samsonov, emphasized the lack of real experience of the general of commanding the troops of corps and divisions. "Appointed to replace General Rausch Traubenberg at the command of the 2nd Army, General Samsonov - cavalry chief of brilliant personal courage - occupied senior staff posts (in the Warsaw Military District) and administrative posts (Don Ataman), but had never commanded neither a corps not even an infantry division," wrote Kersonovsky.

According to the plan of the operation, developed at headquarters under the leadership of Supreme Commander, the Grand Duke Nicholas, the 1st and 2nd Armies were to defeat the German 8th Army, concentrated in East Prussia. Samsonov was ordered to move from the Narew River, bypassing the Masurian lakes to the north, Rennenkampf - from the Niemen to the west. 7 (20) August, the 1st Army of Rennenkampf defeated the 8th German army under the command of General M. Pritvits near Gumbinnen-Goldap. By the time, Samsonov's army had to advance following the difficult sandy roads in the countryside, poor with food, which caused the need for prior organization of the rear, but obeying the orders of the commander of the North-Western Front Ya. G. Zhilinsky, Samsonov continued to move at a rapid pace.

13 (26) August 1914, the enemy launched a counter-offensive. After fightings near Uzdau 13 (26) -14 (27) August and Bischofsburg 13 (26) August, flanking corps of the 2nd Army were discarded. 15 (28) August, Samsonov left his main quarters and went to the front-line, to the headquarters of the 15th Corps of Nadrau. 16 (29) -17 (30) August, the main forces of the central corps of the army were encircled in Komussinsky forest. While breaking out of the encirclement of the Army Staff, Samsonov stayed behind his companions, and, not wanting to endure the shame of defeat, shot himself.

Samsonov’s army lost in the battles around 70,000 men. Despite the failure of the operation, the actions of the armies of the North-Western Front forced Germany to transfer its troops to the Eastern Front, which contributed to the Allied victory over Germany in the Marne battle.

A year later, the widow of Alexander Vasilyevich got permission to go to Germany as a representative of the Red Cross. After performing her official mission, E. A. Samsonova with the permission of the German authorities went to East Prussia, where she found her husband's grave. In November 1915, General Samsonov's body was delivered to Petrograd and then transported to be buried in the village of Yakimovka (Akimovka), Kherson province.

Lit.: Вацетис И. И. Танненберг. Разгром 2-й русской армии генерала Самсонова. М., 1932 Иссерсон Г. Канны мировой войны: [Гибель армии Самсонова]. М., 1926.


Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

I was born at Kislovodsk on 11th December, 1918. My father had studied philological subjects at Moscow University, but did not complete his studies, as he enlisted as a volunteer when war broke out in 1914. He became an artillery officer on the German front, fought throughout the war and died in the summer of 1918, six months before I was born. I was brought up by my mother, who worked as a shorthand-typist, in the town of Rostov on the Don, where I spent the whole of my childhood and youth, leaving the grammar school there in 1936. Even as a child, without any prompting from others, I wanted to be a writer and, indeed, I turned out a good deal of the usual juvenilia. In the 1930s, I tried to get my writings published but I could not find anyone willing to accept my manuscripts. I wanted to acquire a literary education, but in Rostov such an education that would suit my wishes was not to be obtained. To move to Moscow was not possible, partly because my mother was alone and in poor health, and partly because of our modest circumstances. I therefore began to study at the Department of Mathematics at Rostov University, where it proved that I had considerable aptitude for mathematics. But although I found it easy to learn this subject, I did not feel that I wished to devote my whole life to it. Nevertheless, it was to play a beneficial role in my destiny later on, and on at least two occasions, it rescued me from death. For I would probably not have survived the eight years in camps if I had not, as a mathematician, been transferred to a so-called sharashia, where I spent four years and later, during my exile, I was allowed to teach mathematics and physics, which helped to ease my existence and made it possible for me to write. If I had had a literary education it is quite likely that I should not have survived these ordeals but would instead have been subjected to even greater pressures. Later on, it is true, I began to get some literary education as well this was from 1939 to 1941, during which time, along with university studies in physics and mathematics, I also studied by correspondence at the Institute of History, Philosophy and Literature in Moscow.

In 1941, a few days before the outbreak of the war, I graduated from the Department of Physics and Mathematics at Rostov University. At the beginning of the war, owing to weak health, I was detailed to serve as a driver of horsedrawn vehicles during the winter of 1941-1942. Later, because of my mathematical knowledge, I was transferred to an artillery school, from which, after a crash course, I passed out in November 1942. Immediately after this I was put in command of an artillery-position-finding company, and in this capacity, served, without a break, right in the front line until I was arrested in February 1945. This happened in East Prussia, a region which is linked with my destiny in a remarkable way. As early as 1937, as a first-year student, I chose to write a descriptive essay on “The Samsonov Disaster” of 1914 in East Prussia and studied material on this and in 1945 I myself went to this area (at the time of writing, autumn 1970, the book August 1914 has just been completed).

I was arrested on the grounds of what the censorship had found during the years 1944-45 in my correspondence with a school friend, mainly because of certain disrespectful remarks about Stalin, although we referred to him in disguised terms. As a further basis for the “charge”, there were used the drafts of stories and reflections which had been found in my map case. These, however, were not sufficient for a “prosecution”, and in July 1945 I was “sentenced” in my absence, in accordance with a procedure then frequently applied, after a resolution by the OSO (the Special Committee of the NKVD), to eight years in a detention camp (at that time this was considered a mild sentence).

I served the first part of my sentence in several correctional work camps of mixed types (this kind of camp is described in the play, The Tenderfoot and the Tramp). In 1946, as a mathematician, I was transferred to the group of scientific research institutes of the MVD-MOB (Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of State Security). I spent the middle period of my sentence in such “SPECIAL PRISONS” (The First Circle). In 1950 I was sent to the newly established “Special Camps” which were intended only for political prisoners. In such a camp in the town of Ekibastuz in Kazakhstan (One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich), I worked as a miner, a bricklayer, and a foundryman. There I contracted a tumour which was operated on, but the condition was not cured (its character was not established until later on).

One month after I had served the full term of my eight-year sentence, there came, without any new judgement and even without a “resolution from the OSO”, an administrative decision to the effect that I was not to be released but EXILED FOR LIFE to Kok-Terek (southern Kazakhstan). This measure was not directed specially against me, but was a very usual procedure at that time. I served this exile from March 1953 (on March 5th, when Stalin’s death was made public, I was allowed for the first time to go out without an escort) until June 1956. Here my cancer had developed rapidly, and at the end of 1953, I was very near death. I was unable to eat, I could not sleep and was severely affected by the poisons from the tumour. However, I was able to go to a cancer clinic at Tashkent, where, during 1954, I was cured (The Cancer Ward, Right Hand). During all the years of exile, I taught mathematics and physics in a primary school and during my hard and lonely existence I wrote prose in secret (in the camp I could only write down poetry from memory). I managed, however, to keep what I had written, and to take it with me to the European part of the country, where, in the same way, I continued, as far as the outer world was concerned, to occupy myself with teaching and, in secret, to devote myself to writing, at first in the Vladimir district (Matryona’s Farm) and afterwards in Ryazan.

During all the years until 1961, not only was I convinced that I should never see a single line of mine in print in my lifetime, but, also, I scarcely dared allow any of my close acquaintances to read anything I had written because I feared that this would become known. Finally, at the age of 42, this secret authorship began to wear me down. The most difficult thing of all to bear was that I could not get my works judged by people with literary training. In 1961, after the 22nd Congress of the U.S.S.R. Communist Party and Tvardovsky’s speech at this, I decided to emerge and to offer One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.

Such an emergence seemed, then, to me, and not without reason, to be very risky because it might lead to the loss of my manuscripts, and to my own destruction. But, on that occasion, things turned out successfully, and after protracted efforts, A.T. Tvardovsky was able to print my novel one year later. The printing of my work was, however, stopped almost immediately and the authorities stopped both my plays and (in 1964) the novel, The First Circle, which, in 1965, was seized together with my papers from the past years. During these months it seemed to me that I had committed an unpardonable mistake by revealing my work prematurely and that because of this I should not be able to carry it to a conclusion.

It is almost always impossible to evaluate at the time events which you have already experienced, and to understand their meaning with the guidance of their effects. All the more unpredictable and surprising to us will be the course of future events.

From Nobel Lectures, Literature 1968-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Sture Allén, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1993

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn died on 3 August, 2008.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1970

To cite this section
MLA style: Alexandr Solzhenitsyn – Biographical. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2021. Mon. 28 Jun 2021. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1970/solzhenitsyn/biographical/>

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Alexander Samsonov - History

August 1914:
When Lies Become History
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
August 2020

My understanding was that the two Russian generals hated each other and would not support one another at Tannenberg/Masurian Lakes. A German colonel on Hindenberg's staff saw the two arguing at a railway station pre-war. It got so bad they got into a fistfight. So, he knew they would never support each other and planned the German counterattack accordingly. And it worked.

Cool story. But it never happened.

The version above comes from an internet post by a wargame/history magazine editor, but it&rsquos a pretty commonly told tale: that Russian generals Alexander Samsonov and Pavel von Rennenkampf engaged in a fistfight at a railway station at Mukden during the Russo-Japanese War, and their mutual hatred would fuel the Russian defeat at the Battle of Tannenberg a decade later. It appears in many books &ndash some of them good ones &ndash and many articles.

In short, the story goes like this: in August 1914, two Russian armies invaded Germany&rsquos easternmost province, East Prussia. One outnumbered German army, the Eighth, defended the province. After some initial Russian successes, the Germans managed to inflict a massive defeat on the Russians by defeating one enemy army in detail, and then turning on the other. During the first phase, the attack on Samsonov&rsquos Second Army, the Germans could not be sure that Rennenkampf&rsquos First Army would not fall on their exposed rear flank. Supposedly due to knowledge of the two generals&rsquo fisticuffs, the German attack went forward with well-placed confidence as Rennenkampf did not come to Samsonov&rsquos aid.


Lt. Col. Max Hoffmann

The fistfight story appears to originate with Barbara Tuchmann&rsquos Pulitzer Prize-winning The Guns of August. Citing Max Hoffmann, an Eighth Army staff officer, she writes:

Hoffmann claimed to have personal knowledge of a private quarrel between Rennenkampf and Samsonov dating from the Russo-Japanese War, in which he had been Germany&rsquos observer. He said that Samsonov&rsquos Siberian Cossacks, after a brave fight, had been obliged to yield the Yentai coal mines because Rennenkampf&rsquos cavalry division had remained inactive despite repeated orders and that Samsonov had then knocked Rennenkampf down in a heated quarrel on the platform of the Mukden railway station. (Tuchmann, Guns of August, p. 345)

Hoffmann, in his memoir The War of Lost Opportunities, does tell a story of the two generals having a personal feud. As is often his way, Hoffman embroiders the story to put himself at center stage since he passed the information on to his bosses:

I would therefore like to mention the reports, which cannot be quite disproved, that Rennenkampf did not go to assist Samsonov from personal enmity against him. We must naturally conclude that he did not realize what importance the effects of his decision, nor what the extent of Samsonov's defeat would be. I know that a personal enmity existed between the two men, it dates from the battle of Liauyang, where Samsonov with the Siberian Cossack Division was defending the Yentai coal mines, but notwithstanding the distinguished bravery of his Cossacks he was obliged to evacuate them as Rennenkampf, who was on the left flank of the Russians with his detachment remained inactive notwithstanding repeated orders. Witnesses told me that after the battle, there had been some very biting explanations between the two leaders in the Mukden station.

So with Hoffmann we do have a quarrel, not expressly described as public but possibly so, and definitely not described as a physical confrontation. And he also injects some weasel language: in the way of gossip-mongers around the world, he&rsquos not claiming the story is true, he&rsquos just saying it can&rsquot be proven false. People are saying, a habitual liar might put it.


Pavel von Rennenkampf

Hoffmann spoke Russian fluently and spent five years in the general staff&rsquos Russian intelligence division, so he was well-placed to hear of an incident. But did it actually happen as he says? Hoffmann&rsquos work is riddled with self-aggrandizing exaggerations, many of which have been accepted by popular historians and game designers. By attributing the victory at Tannenberg to his insider information &ndash something no one else on the Eighth Army staff could have provided &ndash Hoffmann thereby stakes a claim to the victory that would not otherwise be within the grasp of a mere lieutenant colonel, no matter how talented. So Hoffmann had motive to invent the story.

Jean Savant, in his detailed 1938 biography of Pavel Rennenkampf, Un Souvenier sur Paul de Rennenkampf, thoroughly demolishes any thought of a physical or even verbal confrontation, noting that Rennenkampf had been wounded in action and was not even present in Mukden to confront Samsonov. However, Rennenkampf did apparently have a public argument with his (and Samsonov&rsquos) corps commander, Pavel Mishchenko. Even so, there are a number of further embellishments floating around out there: that the two generals fought with their fists, that one boxed the other&rsquos ears, that the fight took place &ldquoin front of their men.&rdquo Holger Herwig, in his Biographical Dictionary of World War I, even claims that Hoffman witnessed the fight himself &ndash pretty difficult for Hoffman to pull off, as he was attached to the Japanese Army at the time.

There does appear to be a grain of truth at the center of the story: Rennenkampf and Samsonov belonged to different factions of the Russian general officer corps. Hoffman, one of the German Army&rsquos leading experts on the Russian Army, was well-placed to know all about that service&rsquos bitter factional politics.


Alexander Samsonov

Samsonov was a protégé of War Minister Vladimir A. Sukhomlinov, and after commanding a cavalry division against the Japanese had performed well in a series of district commands. Rennenkampf, for his part, gravitated to the Grand Duke Nicholas, the Tsar&rsquos first cousin (once removed) and extremely influential in military affairs. Nicholas had never held a field command, serving as the inspector general of cavalry from 1895 to 1905, and afterwards as commander of the St. Petersburg Military District. From that post he heaped scorn on Sukhomlinov, repeatedly interfering with the War Minister&rsquos attempts to modernize the army. The paper-exercise war games set up by the War Minister, for example, were dismissed by the Grand Duke as &ldquomaking generals sit for exams&rdquo and cancelled by the Tsar at the Grand Duke&rsquos urging. Factions sprung up around each man, with their partisans sniping bitterly at one another.

When the Russian Army mobilized, the two factions had to be given equal representation. So when First Army command went to one of the Grand Duke's men, Second Army had to go to a Sukhomlinovite. Rennenkampf at First Army had a chief of staff from the Sukhomlinov faction, while Samsonov's chief of staff came from the Nicholas faction.

All of this would have been well-known to Hoffmann, but difficult to describe in the heat of the moment. Making up a fictional fight might have seemed an easier means of describing the enemy generals&rsquo rivalry in the confusion of a frantic headquarters. And from there the lie took on a life of its own, as such things often do. Tuchmann expanded the &ldquobiting explanations&rdquo to a physical assault (though she does not claim a fistfight took place), and Herwig added some more embroidery by placing Hoffmann impossibly at the scene.

Did Rennenkampf indeed refuse to assist Samsonov&rsquos army simply due to factional politics? That also seems unlikely: well before the front command began pressing First Army to move to Samsonov&rsquos aid, Rennenkampf and his staff were pondering a retreat from East Prussia. They believed the Germans in front of them had been defeated and were withdrawing in disorder, not to attack Samsonov instead, and First Army&rsquos own supply system had collapsed. Rennenkampf had refused to move forward well before Samsonov&rsquos distress became apparent he did not suddenly become sluggish when Second Army needed help.

Why the story has survived isn't exactly clear - it's been debunked by many authors. Dennis Showalter in Tannenberg: Clash of Empires, to cite just one example, does a thorough job of it.

&ldquoA lie travels halfway around the world while truth is still putting on its shoes.&rdquo Usually attributed to Mark Twain, sometimes to Winston Churchill, actually written by Charles Spurgeon.

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Mike Bennighof is president of Avalanche Press and holds a doctorate in history from Emory University. A Fulbright Scholar and NASA Journalist in Space finalist, he has published vast numbers of books, games and articles on historical subjects. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his wife, three children and his dog, Leopold. Leopold would have rescued Samsonov.


The NHL’s Top-50 Russians of All-Time

The very first Russian-born and trained player to make it to the NHL was Victor Nechayev. Upon marrying an American woman that allowed him entry into the USA, Nechayev played one season of professional hockey in North America. That included three games for the Los Angeles Kings during the 1982-83 season, one of which saw him score a goal.

Nearly a decade would pass before the league would see a major influx of Russians, as the Iron Curtain began to crumble.

Sergei Pryakhin was the first Russian allowed exodus, and he promptly joined the Calgary Flames. Alexander Mogilny defected to join the Buffalo Sabres, and is still the only Russian to eclipse the 70-goal mark. More former Soviets would quickly become NHL superstars as well, while the 1993-94 New York Rangers would become the first team with Russian players to get their names inscribed on Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Since that time, Russians are seemingly as commonplace in the NHL as any other nationality – “every team has one”, so to speak. THW takes a look through nearly 40 years of history (yes, we even considered Nechayev) to determine the league’s Top-50 Russians of all-time.

Here is who we came up with.

50. Yuri Khmylev

Affectionately called “The Yuro-Train” during his time in Buffalo, Khmylev made his NHL debut at the age of 28. He had back-to-back 20-goal seasons in 1992-93 and 1993-94, while seeing occasional time alongside Pat LaFontaine and Alexander Mogilny. Khmylev eventually became more of a defensively-focused player, and would briefly be linemates with Wayne Gretzky followed a trade to St. Louis.

49. Igor Ulanov

(Winnipeg, Washington, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Montreal, Edmonton, New York Rangers, Florida)

Nicknamed “The Mangler” throughout his career, Ulanov was a punishing force on defense for parts of 13 seasons. At 6-foot-2 and well over 200 pounds, he was mean and ornery but never got enough credit for having sound positioning on the ice. Ulanov played 739 regular season games, and chalked up 1,151 penalty minutes in that time.

48. Ilya Bryzgalov

(Anaheim, Phoenix/Arizona, Philadelphia, Edmonton, Minnesota)

Ilya Bryzgalov (Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)

Too many people recall Bryzgalov as being more of an oddity, that they forget he was also a talented goaltender. He would win a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, and eventually became a starting goaltender in the league once he moved onto the Coyotes and Flyers. Bryzgalov’s career numbers came out to 221-162-0-54, with a 2.58 goals-against average and a .912 save percentage.

47. Igor Kravchuk

(Chicago, Edmonton, St. Louis, Ottawa, Calgary, Florida)

Kravchuk was solid defensively, and possessed an offensive touch as well. In his very first NHL season (1991-92), he helped the Blackhawks reach the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He would play 11 more seasons after that. Kravchuk’s finest campaign was 1992-93 with the Oilers when he went 12-38-50 – all career highs – in 81 games.

46. Danil Markov

(Toronto, Phoenix/Arizona, Carolina, Philadelphia, Nashville, Detroit)

A tireless, fearless defender, Markov could take a hit and give one in return. He once infamously took stitches below his eye without any anesthetic in order to keep playing. Three times Markov played for teams that reached the Stanley Cup semi-final round across his nine NHL seasons.

45. Boris Mironov

(Edmonton, Winnipeg, Chicago, New York Rangers)

At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Mironov could be a very physical defender – especially in the earlier part of his career – but he possessed a noticeable offensive upswing. Four times in his 11 seasons he would surpass 100 PIMs – all of them happening within his first six campaigns. Mironov also scored at least 30 points from the back end on six different occasions as well.

44. Alexander Frolov

(Los Angeles, New York Rangers)

Frolov had seven good seasons on the West Coast with the Kings, but then disappeared after a season-ending ACL injury during his lone year in the Big Apple. A two-time 30-goal scorer, he hit double digits in goals from 2002-03 through 2009-10 – all with Los Angeles. After his stint with the Rangers in 2010-11, Frolov finished out his career in the KHL.

43. Dmitri Mironov

(Toronto, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Detroit, Washington)

Possessing a very similar build and style to that of his younger brother Boris, the elder Mironov was the more offensive of the two. In 10 NHL seasons, Dmitri Mironov recorded five straight seasons (excluding the 1994-95 lockout) of at least 30 points as a blueliner. His career high of 52 (13-39-52) came in 1996-97. Mironov won the Stanley Cup with the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings.

42. Oleg Tverdovsky

(Anaheim, Winnipeg, Phoenix/Arizona, New Jersey, Carolina, Los Angeles)

Though born in Ukraine, Tverdovsky developed his game in Russia and represented the country internationally. A highly gifted offensive-defenseman, he recorded at least 50 points in a season on three separate occasions. Perhaps best thought of as a Duck, Tverdovsky won two Stanley Cups in his career – one with the 2002-03 New Jersey Devils and one with the 2005-06 Carolina Hurricanes.

41. Maxim Afinogenov

When Afinogenov arrived on the scene in Buffalo in 1999-00, he seemed destined to become the next Pavel Bure. With lightning-speed and exhilarating rushes, he thrilled Sabres fans for nine seasons. The trouble was that as fast as Afinogenov was, his scoring could not keep pace. He never scored more than 24 goals in a season, and that came during his lone and final NHL campaign with the Atlanta Thrashers. Three times he scored at least 20 for Buffalo, but he could never fully harness his raw talent.

The hope was that Maxim Afinogenov would become another Pavel Bure, but it never materialized. (THW Archives)

40. Andrei Kovalenko

(Quebec, Colorado, Montreal, Edmonton, Philadelphia, Carolina, Boston)

Kovalenko was nicknamed “The Tank”. While standing a modest 5-foot-11, he weighed 230 pounds and was very sturdy in front of the net. Kovalenko possessed a decent scoring touch, and generated double digits in goals for all but one of his nine NHL seasons. His highest total came in 1996-97 when he potted 32 for the Oilers.

39. Alexander Karpovtsev

(New York Rangers, Toronto, Chicago, New York Islanders, Florida)

Though some dogged him later in his career as being a “lazy” player, Karpovtsev was nonetheless a very talented defender. He possessed good size at 6-foot-2 and 200 pounds, and could contribute offensively. His finest season came in 1996-97 when he finished second among Rangers blueliners in scoring (9-29-38), and fed off of the play of Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Brian Leetch and Adam Graves. He was one of the first Russians to have his named etched onto the Stanley Cup in 1994. Very sadly, we lost Karpovtsev in the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl tragedy in 2011.

38. Valeri Bure

(Montreal, Calgary, Florida, St. Louis, Dallas)

Though not as high-scoring as his more renowned older brother, Valeri Bure could still put pucks home. He would surpass the 20-goal plateau five times during his career. When Bure tallied a career-high 35 goals in 1999-00 for the Flames, he and his older brother set the NHL record (93) for most goals in a season by a pair of siblings. He finished her career with 400 points (174 G, 226 A) in 621 games.

37. Alexander Semin

(Washington, Carolina, Montreal)

An incredibly gifted scorer, Semin could have been one of the greats but earned a reputation as being lackadaisical or lazy at times. Still, his god-given talent cannot be ignored. In nine of his 11 NHL seasons, Semin reached double digits. He was at least a point-per-game player in three different seasons, and scored 40 goals in 73 games for the 2009-10 Washington Capitals.

Alexander Semin’s offensive skills could seem otherwordly at times (Photo Credit: Andy Martin Jr.)

36. Artemi Panarin

(Chicago, Columbus, New York Rangers)

“The Bread Man” is about to embark on the Big Apple portion of his NHL career, but has already established himself as one of the more skillful Russians to have graced the league. Joining the Blackhawks in 2015-16 after seven KHL seasons, Panarin scored 30 goals and 77 points as a rookie to win the Calder. During his two seasons for the Blue Jackets, he scored at better than a point-per-game pace.

35. Viktor Kozlov

(San Jose, Florida, New Jersey, New York Islanders, Washington)

Kozlov was selected 6th overall in 1993 by the Sharks, and it wasn’t difficult to see why. He stood 6-foot-4 and over 230 pounds in a time when bigger always seemed better. Kozlov would end up playing 14 seasons in the NHL, almost half of which were spent with the Panthers. He would score at least 12 goals in 11 of those campaigns, and finished his career with 198.

34. Alexei Zhitnik

(Los Angeles, Buffalo, New York Islanders, Philadelphia, Atlanta)

Zhitnik was born in Ukraine during Soviet times, but played internationally for Russia. He could score from the blueline and possessed a cannon of a shot as well (though sometimes he had difficulty in hitting the net). Across his career, Zhitnik played in two Stanley Cup Finals but never won the Cup. On Feb. 20, 2007, he became the eighth defenseman from outside of North America to play 1,000 regular season games.

33. Vladimir Malakhov

(New York Islanders, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Rangers, Philadelphia)

A behemoth on defense, Malakhov stood 6-foot-4 and near the 230-pound mark. Aside from his hulking figure, he also possessed a great deal of offensive capabilities. In his rookie NHL season, Malakhov had 52 points (14G, 38A) in 64 games. Five times he scored at least 10 goals in a season. He was one of four Russians to win the Cup with the Devils in 1999-00.

32. Alexei Gusarov

(Quebec, Colorado, New York Rangers, St. Louis)

Gusarov was another Soviet-era player who made the jump to the NHL in his late-20s. He would join the Nordiques in 1990-91, and remained with the franchise on into the 2000-01 season. Possessing a touch of offense to his game, Gusarov was also very tough and was instrumental to the Avalanche during their rivalry years with Detroit. He would help the Avs win the Cup in 1995-96.

31. Sergei Samsonov

(Boston, Edmonton, Montreal, Chicago, Carolina, Florida)

After potting 22 goals for the Bruins in 1997-98, Samsonov was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Year. He would end up scoring at least 19 goals for the next four seasons after that. Samsonov would help the Edmonton Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2005-06, after coming over in a trade from Boston. He would scored 235 goals across 13 seasons.

30. Alexander Radulov

(Nashville, Montreal, Dallas)

Radulov’s game has matured through his three separate chapters in the NHL. Highly-skilled but aggravatingly youthful during his time with the Preds, he has since blossomed into a go-to player in Dallas. Radulov’s first six seasons saw him record 300 points (121G, 179A) in 382 games.

Alexander Radulov’s play has gotten better as he has matured (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey).

29. Igor Korolev

(St. Louis, Winnipeg, Phoenix/Arizona, Toronto, Chicago)

Korolev was one of the hardest working players in the game during his time. His finest years came as a member of the Maple Leafs when he recorded double digits in goals in all four seasons in Toronto. Though his scoring tapered off at times, he remained defensively responsible throughout his career. Korolev’s life was cut short by the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash.

28. Dmitri Yushkevich

(Philadelphia, Toronto, Florida, Los Angeles)

A superb shot-blocker, Yushkevich developed a reputation as being a fearless battler throughout his entire career. He grew into being a top-4 defenseman, and ended up playing 786 regular season games. Seven of his 11 NHL seasons were in a Maple Leafs uniform. If there was ever a defender who typified the word tireless, it would be Yushkevich.

27. Sergei Makarov

Makarov was one of greatest Soviet hockey players to ever lace ’em up. He would receive Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 2016, namely due to his play prior to his NHL career. Make no mistake though, Makarov was a topnotch NHLer as well. He won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie as a 31-year-old, which cause the NHL to institute an age limit for the award. Twice he was a 30-goal scorer – once with the Flames and once with the Sharks.

26. Evgeny Kuznetsov

Not only did Kuznetsov win the Stanley Cup with the Capitals in 2018, he was the team’s leading scorer in the postseason with 32 points (12G, 20a) in 24 games. He set career highs in the 2017-18 season as well, both for goals (27) and points (83). He will keep fans in the D.C. area entertained for many years to come.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

25. Sergei Nemchinov

(New York Rangers, Vancouver, New York Islanders, New Jersey)

Like Karpovtsev and two other Russians who made our list, Nemchinov was one of the first from his country to win the Stanley Cup when the Rangers did so in 1994. He would win a second one in 2000 as a member of the Devils. Nemchinov scored 30 goals in his rookie season of 1991-92, and was the first player in NHL history to play for all three “Hudson River” teams – the Rangers, Islanders and Devils.

24. Sergei Brylin

If there was a most underrated player on our list, it would have to be Sergei Brylin. He played 12 NHL seasons – all with the Devils – and was a member of their Cup-winning teams in 1995, 2000 and 2003. Brylin’s finest season came in 2000-01 when he set career highs in goals (23), assists (29) and points (52).

23. Andrei Markov

Markov has suffered a lot of injuries in his career, but his time spent in the NHL saw him become one of the most steadfast defenders in the league regardless. In 990 games, he generated 572 points (119G, 453A) from the back end. Seven times Markov generated at least 35 assists in a season. Twice he finished in the top-10 in voting for the Norris Trophy.

Andrei Markov, Montreal Canadiens, 2003 (Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images)

22. Vladimir Tarasenko

Tarasenko is easily one of the most dynamic players in the game today. He has scored at least 33 goals for the Blues for five seasons straight. Tarasenko finished second on the team in playoff goals during their Cup-run in 2018-19. Now that he has that Cup and is showing no signs of slowing down, he will likely have earned a much higher spot on our list by the time he has retired. Many wonder if Tarasenko can become the first Blues player since 1993-94 to reach 50 goals in a season.

21. Valeri Kamensky

(Quebec, Colorado, New York Rangers, Dallas, New Jersey)

Kamensky was another key component for the Avalanche during their rivalry years with the Red Wings, and one of the team’s premier scorers. When the Avs won the Cup in 1995-96, Kamensky scored 38 goals that season, plus another 10 during the playoffs. He would finish his NHL career having scored 200 regular season goals in 637 games.

20. Viacheslav Fetisov

In his younger years, Fetisov was widely considered the best defenseman in the world. He would eventually make his NHL debut with the 1989-90 Devils at the age of 31. Playing until the age of 40, Fetisov appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals with the Red Wings, and won the Cup in 1997 and 1998. Despite the late start, he still managed to record 228 points (36G, 192A) in 546 games.

19. Evgeni Nabokov

(San Jose, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay)

Though born in Kazakhstan during Soviet times, Nabokov primarily represented Russia on the international scene. He would win the Calder Trophy in 2000-01 when he went 32-21-7 for the Sharks and put forth a 2.19 goals-against and a .915 SV%. Nabokov was named to the First All-Star Team in 2008, and finished in the top-5 in voting for the Vezina Trophy on five different occasions.

18. Vladimir Konstantinov

Were it not for the tragic accident that cut his career short, Konstantinov may have had a Hall of Fame career. He was nicknamed “Vlad the Impaler”, and with good reason – there were very few who could bodycheck as well as he could. Konstantinov earned the NHL Plus/Minus Award in 1995–96, with a brilliant plus-60. Though not overly large, he was solid like steel and his hits were devastating. Konstantinov would win the Cup with the Red Wings in 1997, and had his name included with the 1998 team as well.

Defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov of the Detroit Red Wings moves down the ice during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Philadelphia Flyers (Rick Stewart /Allsport)

17. Alexei Yashin

(Ottawa, New York Islanders)

As much as Yashin was criticized during his career for what was felt to be a failure to show up in the playoffs, he was still a very talented hockey player. Contract disputes certainly did not help either, but Yashin scored at least 30 goals in half of his dozen NHL campaigns. He was a Second All-Star Team selection in 1998-99, and finished second in voting for the Hart Trophy that season as well.

16. Vyacheslav Kozlov

A two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Red Wings, Slava Kozlov was one of the most consistent scorers of his generation. Playing parts of 18 NHL seasons, he scored at least 20 goals in a season 11 different times. Even while with the lowly Thrashers for his final seven campaigns, Kozlov had 70-point seasons four times.

15. Nikita Kucherov

Though still early on, it appears that Kucherov is in the process of assembling a Hockey Hall of Fame career. For six straight seasons his point totals have increased for the Lightning. Kucherov reached the 100-point plateau both in 2017-18 and 2018-19. Scoring 128 points (41G, 87A) in 2018-19, he earned the Art Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award. Now all he needs is a Stanley Cup.

Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

14. Nikolai Khabibulin

(Winnipeg, Phoenix/Arizona, Tampa Bay, Chicago, Edmonton)

Khabibulin was the first Russian goaltender to win the Stanley Cup when he did so with the 2003-04 Tampa Bay Lightning. His 333 career victories make him one of only 36 goalies to have recorded 300 wins. A four-time NHL All-Star, Khabibulin finished his career with 46 career shutouts.

13. Alexei Kovalev

(New York Rangers, Pittsburgh, Montreal, Ottawa, Florida)

Kovalev is widely recognized one of the most gifted individual players to appear in the league. He won the Stanley Cup with the Rangers in only his sophomore NHL season. His 21 playoff points were third most on that particular team, behind Brian Leetch and Mark Messier. Kovalev would go on to score 430 goals in his NHL career.

12. Alexei Zhamnov

(Winnipeg, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston)

Nicknamed “Archie” for his red hair and resemblance to the comic character, Zhamnov was an exceptionally talented center who was strong both ways. Beginning with his rookie season in 1992-93, he scored at least 20 goals for eight consecutive seasons. In the lockout shortened 1994-95 season, Zhamnov reached a career-high of 30 goals in only 48 games. Injuries slowed him down later in his career, but his talent was always frustratingly underrated.

11. Sergei Bobrovsky

(Philadelphia, Columbus, Florida )

It is very hard to find a finer goaltender – Russian or otherwise – than Sergei Bobrovsky. He is the top netminder on our list, having won the Vezina Trophy in 2012-13 and 2016-17. Bobrovsky’s 2.06 GAA and .931 SV% across 63 games for the Blue Jackets in 2016-17 are simply staggering. Now with the Panthers, he begins the next chapter in what could be a Hockey Hall of Fame career.

Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

10. Sergei Gonchar

(Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh, Ottawa, Dallas, Montreal)

There is a likelihood that Sergei Gonchar receives Hockey Hall of Fame induction someday. Few Russian defenders have been more offensively potent. He was an NHL Second All-Star Team selection in 2002 and 2003, and was picked to play in the All-Star Game in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008. Twice he surpassed 20 goals in a season, despite being a blueliner. Gonchar earned a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 2009, and finished his career with 811 points (220G, 591A) in 1,301 games.

9. Ilya Kovalchuk

(Atlanta, New Jersey, Los Angeles)

During his prime, Kovalchuk was arguably the purest sniper in the NHL. He won the “Rocket” Richard Trophy in 2003-04 when he tallied 41 goals in 81 games. Kovalchuk would follow that up with seasons of 52, 42, 52 and 43 respectively, before dropping more into the 30s. Had he not gone to play in the KHL from 2013-14 through 2017-18, he would have hit the 500-goal plateau a long time ago. Kovalchuk still may reach the mark regardless.

Ilya Kovalchuk, Montreal Canadiens (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

8. Igor Larionov

(Vancouver, San Jose, Detroit, Florida, New Jersey)

Larionov was known as “The Professor” for his intellectual approach, his soft-spoken nature and his glasses. He was also one of the finest hockey players to ever skate. Enough so, that throughout the 1980s prior to his arrival in North America, he was thought of as a “Russian Gretzky”. Larionov won three Stanley Cups, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008.

7. Evgeni Malkin

When it comes to sheer power combined with skill, there is no other Russian like Malkin – and few other players for that matter. At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, he has been a beast his entire career but with an elite level of talent. Malkin has surpassed 100 points in a season three times, and led the league in scoring in 2008-09 and 2011-12. He has three Stanley Cup rings, a Hart Memorial Trophy, a Calder Trophy, a Conn Smythe, and a Ted Lindsay in addition to his two Art Ross wins.

6. Sergei Zubov

(New York Rangers, Dallas Stars)

Zubov is the highest-ranking defenseman on our list. He was named a 2019 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame. Zubov won two Stanley Cups in his career – first with the Rangers in 1994, and then with Dallas in 1999. Eight times he surpassed 50 points in a season, and led the “Blueshirts” in scoring when they ended their 54-year curse. Zubov finished his career with 771 points in 1,068 games.

5. Pavel Datsyuk

Were it not for the player who is ranked at the top of our list, we would probably have considered Datysuk the best all-around Russian to have ever graced the NHL. Nicknamed “The Magic Man”, he is able to do things with a puck that no other player could ever duplicate. Two Stanley Cups, over 900 points, three Selke Trophies, four Lady Byngs – pretty much every reason for Datsyuk to be in the top-5.

4. Pavel Bure

(Vancouver, Florida, New York Rangers)

“The Russian Rocket” was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2012, and deservedly so. There was arguably no player more exhilarating from his generation than Bure. Twice in his career he scored 60 goals in a season. Three other times he reached 50. Bure’s blinding speed, cannon of a shot, and pure “thrill factor” place him at fourth on our list.

Pavel Bure goes down in history as one of the most electrifying players in hockey history (Photo Credit: Rick Stewart/Getty Images/NHLI).

3. Alexander Mogilny

(Buffalo, Vancouver, New Jersey, Toronto)

It is a travesty that Mogilny has not yet been enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Were it not for hip and back injuries, his numbers would have been even more prolific. Still, Mogilny generated 1,032 points (473 G, 559 A) in 990 games. Eight times he reached at least 30 goals in a season, including 76 in 1992-93. He also won the Cup in 1999-00.

2. Alex Ovechkin

As each season passes, Ovechkin furthers the conclusion that he is the NHL’s all-time greatest goal scorer. Having scored 658 times by the time he turned 33, there is speculation that he could even reach Gretzky’s mark of 894 for tops overall. Only time with tell, but Ovie has got his Stanley Cup (2018) and will likely set scoring marks that no other Russian will ever duplicate.

Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

1. Sergei Fedorov

(Detroit, Anaheim, Columbus, Washington)

Fedorov is tops on our list for being the best all-around Russian in NHL history, and one of the best all-around players ever. He could play forward or defense, or whatever way the great Scotty Bowman chose to utilize him. Fedorov was the first Russian to eclipse the 1,000-point plateau. He won three Stanley Cups, two Selke Trophies, one Hart Memorial Trophy, one Lester B. Pearson, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015.

General Manager of the Buffalo Beauts (NWHL). Hockey history writer “The Hockey Writers”. Credentialed media for the NHL Combine and 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY, USA. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY. Lifelong hockey fan for over 40 years. Proponent of the women’s game.


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