Nikolay Ozerov (1922-1997),
USSR Merited Sports Master in tennis,
People's Artist of the Russian Federation Award.
- One of the top Soviet tennis players in 1939-1958
- At 12, won Moscow Tennis Championship
- Won over 170 tennis tournaments including national
championships and international competotions.
Career in Theater:
- Graduated from GITIS, top Russian theater school
- Played in over 20 plays on the stage of the Stanislavsky's
Career in Broadcasting:
- Was one of the most famous sports TV and radio
broadcasters from the early 1950s to mid 1980s
- Made TV and radio reports on soccer and hockey
events from 49 countries.
Nikolay OZEROV was the legend of the Soviet sports
broadcasting. For millions of Russian hockey fans, he
was what Foster Hewitt was for the Canadian viewers and
listeners. Ozerov never played hockey. Although he was
a star tennis player in the 1940s, only a few historians
associate his name with tennis. He acted professionally
on the stage of legendary Moscow Arts Theater but very
few people remember him as an actor. But for those who
watched hockey on TV from 1950s to 1980s , Ozerov's name
can't be separated from hockey. In a way, he was Mr. Hockey
or, keeping up with the terminology of his prime time
in broadcasting, Comrade Hockey. During these glorious
decades in Soviet hockey, generations of viewers watched
his hockey reports from Moscow and Toronto, Voskresensk
and Helsinki, Montreal and Stockholm, Prague and Kiev.
Ozerov's reports from the 1972 Summit belong to the classics
of TV broadcasting. I am not sure if it was the drama
of the Series, the level of hockey shown in the Summit
or the passion in Ozerov's voice that made these games
in September 1972 one of the best sports spectacles ever
shown on the Soviet TV.
When the Soviets won the first game in Montreal, Ozerov
said that the "myth of unbeatable self-praised Canadian
hockey professionals is over now." I was just a little
kid at that time and watched many games after the Summit,
but this phrase by Ozerov is still in my memory.
The difference between the Soviet and Canadian styles was
obvious. "We don't need this kinda hockey!"
This is another saying from Ozerov's reports in 1972.
Although it was said in regard to the Team Canada's tough
and sometimes brutal by the European standards hockey,
the phrase itself went well beyond hockey.
Ozerov was not a comedian but it was his entertaining
reports that made the whole nation laugh on his phrases
and sometimes mistakes. In 1974, legendary Gordy Howe
and Bobby Hull played in the Team Canada (WHA) vs. Team
"Gordy Howe is a legend of Canadian hockey,"
said Ozerov. "He is 46, has over 1000 scars on his
body, his hair is gray but it's still not enough for him.
Life is expensive and Howe needs money. He plays himself
and forces his children to play too. His sons, Mark and
Marty, are playing for Team Canada too."
"Canadian hockey pros don't wear helmets. They wear
nothing. The only one who wears anything is Bobby Hull.
He wears a wig." Almost 30 years passed since Ozerov
said these lines, but I still remember wondering what
might happen to the Hull's wig in the game or counting
Howe's 1000 scars.
Making my memory trips to the 1972 Summit, I always think
about Ozerov. I guess it's not just me. He was an integral
part of Soviet hockey of that time.