Resistance to Russian/Soviet Imperialism in the Words of the Elite Athletes of the Day

On November 30, 2023, four elite athletes came to Notre Dame to share their story of resistance to Soviet/Russian imperialism during the Cold War. This panel discussion was moderated by Tom Heiden and organized by him and his wife Jane Heiden, chair of the Nanovic Institute’s advisory board.


Dmitri Khristich is a long-time National Hockey League (NHL) player and Ukraine native. He was in Kyiv as air raid sirens began to wail and Putin’s bombs began to fall. He played for the USSR in the World Championships and for Ukraine in both the World Championships and the 2002 Olympics. In the NHL, he played for the Washington Capitals, the Los Angeles Kings, the Boston Bruins, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dmitri was twice elected an NHL All-Star.

Václav Nedomanský is the first Czech hockey player to defect to North America to play in the NHL. A native of Slovakia, he was a star of the Czech national team. He defected in 1974, escaping through Switzerland. Throughout his career, he played forward with SHK Hodonín, Slovan ChZJD Bratislava, the Toronto Toros, the Birmingham Bulls, the Detroit Red Wings, the St. Louis Blues, and the New York Rangers. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019.

Anton Šťastný was a professional hockey player who defected from Czechoslovakia to Canada (via Austria) in 1980. He played nine seasons for the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques, along with his brothers Peter and Marian. As a rookie, Anton scored a remarkable eight points in one game with his brother Peter scoring another eight points in the same game. Anton played for the Czech national team in the World Championships and in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics. Later in his career, he also played seasons with the Halifax Citadels, HC Fribourg-Gottéron, EHC Olten, and HC Slovan Bratislava. He lives in Switzerland.

Peter Šťastný is an NHL All-Star and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was a World and European Champion with the Czechoslovakia National Team, and later served as a member of the European Parliament for Slovakia (2004-2014). Peter, along with his brother Anton, escaped to Quebec while the Czech national team was in Austria. They were later joined by their brother Marian. He played for the Quebec Nordiques for ten seasons before also playing seasons with the New Jersey Devils, the St. Louis Blues, and HC Slovan Bratislava. He holds the distinction of being the first player in NHL history to score over 100 points in his rookie year and is the second highest-scoring player of the 1980s after Wayne Gretzky. This event was recorded on November 30, 2023.

For more information visit the event website.

November 30, 2023

Global AffairsCold WarDigest188digest222HistoryhockeyKeough School of Global AffairsNanovic Institute for European Studies

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