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Why Did Boris Mikhailov Decline the Offer to Leave the Russian Team?

Switching teams and trading players are common practices among professional sports players. With the right offer and better benefits, it’s no wonder many players move around teams. Many sports teams are looking for players with higher potential and entice them to join theirs. But did you know that a Russian hockey player declined a $1 million offer?

Boris Mikhailov was the captain of the USSR hockey team. In 1980, he declined a $1 million offer to switch teams after the “Miracle on Ice” because a KGB agent was standing behind him when the offer was made.

Who is Boris Mikhailov?

Boris Petrovich Mikhailov was born in Moscow, Russia, on October 6, 1944. He was the second son of a working-class family. His father was Mikhailov Pyotr Timofeevich, a plumber, while his mother, Malkova Maria Lukyanovna, worked at a famous Java factory.

Like any other teenager in the former Soviet Union, Mikhailov was highly fascinated with hockey. However, his fascination was not shared by anyone in his family. The future hockey legend gained admission in one of the hockey sections of a district stadium called Labor Reserves.

Mikhailov played for the Avangard team in Saratov when he was just eighteen. Even though the team was one of the weaker team’s in its class, Mikhailov’s uncanny skills on the ice caught the eye of the Moscow Lokomotiv head, Anatoly Kostryukov. Mikhailov was then recruited into the Moscow Lokomotiv team after playing three years for Avangard.

After two years playing for the Union’s strongest hockey clubs, the Russian legend was drafted into the army. Mikhailov found his way into the legendary army sports club with his fascination with the sport. By the time he turned 23, he was already part of HC CSKA, also known as The Red Army Team.

Mikhailov’s appearance didn’t stand out from the CSKA players, but his skills attracted so much attention. He used confident offensive tactics and a specific stroke style that only came naturally to him. Mikhailov became one of the most courageous hockey players, capable of facing formidable rivals and ignoring injuries and pain.

The Russian legend played 572 games and scored 428 goals, both of which have not been exceeded since. He gained numerous sports awards throughout his career.

  • 11-time champion of the USSR
  • 8-time world champion
  • Olympic Champion in 1972 and 1976
  • Best forward in the 1974 World Cup
  • Second medalist in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics

His natural talent in hockey also was awarded by the nation.

  • Medal for Labor Valor
  • Order of the Badge of Honor
  • Order of the Red Banner of Honor
  • Order of Lenin

Mikhailov retired as a player and transitioned to coaching. As the head coach, he coached SKA, CSKA, his former team, and Metallurg in Novokuznetsk. With his coaching, the Russian team won their first gold medal in the 1993 World Cup. (Source: Agromassidayu)

Declining the $1 Million offer

The 1980 hockey match between the former USSR and the US was dubbed Miracle on Ice. in previous matches, Mikhailov led his team to back-to-back wins against the Americans. What was surprising was that the US hockey team made a strong comeback, eventually defeating the soviet team.

After the match, the owner of a Toronto hockey club approached him. In his hand were a contract and a $1 million check. The owner wanted Mikhailov part of his club immediately. Despite the generous offer and a possibility of a better career with the Canadians, the Russian player respectfully declined the offer, stating Thank you, but we are Soviet millionaires. (Source: History)


Mikhailov disclosed in later interviews that he declined the offer because he didn’t want to be far away from his family. What also prompted him to respond immediately was that a KGB agent was standing right behind him. (Source: NBC Sports)

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