"...Tonight's program, a 'Frontline' co-production with 'The Fifth Estate,' an investigative news program produced by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, presents facts that don't quite qualify as smoking-gun evidence--but are troubling nonetheless...
Perhaps the most intriguing aspects of 'Mafia Power Play' is the contradiction between the NHL's vigorous public statements belittling the charges of Russian mob connections and their private investigations into the allegations. Those discrepancies are brought to light by interviews with, among other, Jim Moody, a former head of the FBI's organized crime investigations who was hired by the NHL to look into the matter.
For its part, the NHL still maintains that there is no hard proof of misconduct, criminal or otherwise, by anyone in the league.
'Mafia Power Play' would have a lot more punch if it significantly advanced this story beyond the points established in a controversial May 1998 article by Robert Friedman in Details magazine, a report credited in tonight's broadcast.
Even so, viewers unfamilar with the material are sure to find it startling and disturbing."
"'Mafia Power Play' is an exercise in suspicion by association. We are told, for example, that one Vyacheslav Ivankov, a convicted extortionist, is in business with Slava Fetisov, who helped win the 1997 Stanley Cup for the Detroit Red Wings and now is a New Jersey Devils coach. But has Mr. Fetisov done anything illegal? Inferences are rampant, but evidence is lacking.
And what about the relationship between Anzor Kikalishvili, billed as a boss of an organized crime organization, and Pavel Bure, a star of the Florida Panthers? Has Mr. Bure been a victim of extortion of some sort? He says, 'Nyet,' and no facts are offered to back up contrary allegations...
'In Russia,' the narrator says, 'where's there's money, there's mafia.' That's easy to believe, and perhaps the producers were counting
on the bad reputation of Russian operators to get away with an hour filled with speculation. The program can't even decide whether the
players are victims of the Russian Mafia or accomplices. Somebody seems to have lost sight of the puck."
"'An intriguing look at various relationships between alleged figures of Russian organized crime and Soviet-born NHL players. That one of them is Florida's Pavel Bure, one of the niftiest mixes of speed and skill in the league, makes for a good story.
But the piece is better for its rich details and background on the growth of organized crime and its relation to hockey within Russian culture. Especially because the relationship detailed between Bure and Russian businessman Anzor Kikalishvili is old news...
...Even though many of these allegations originated as early as 1996 and have been the subject of numerous investigations, not a single NHL player has ever been arrested or indicted, or had their visa privileges revoked in Canada or in the U.S., on charges stemming from or relating to an involvement in or association with organized crime.'"
"What if professional baseball celebrated its World Series victory with known mobsters? A big scandal, right? 'Frontline' presents a sobering look at how the National Hockey League has become compromised by elements of the Russian Mafia. The documentary shows how the Mob is extorting Russian-born players and using their connections to hockey to establish criminal organizations in the United States and Canada."
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