Legends of Hockey -- NHL Player Search -- Player -- Helmut Balderis
Helmut Balderis was an extraordinary stickhandler and a unique forward. He belonged neither to the Soviet school of hockey nor to his native Latvian, but rather was the result of a singular upbringing.

In Latvia, then a part of the USSR, ice hockey was the number one sport. Riga's Dynamo, under Viktor Tikhonov, rocketed into the big league and competed with Moscow teams as an equal. In 1977 Balderis and Tikhonov were transferred to CSKA "in the interests of the national team." The Latvian players were insulted and annoyed by the heavy-handed treatment, but Balderis was clever. He performed the role he was forced into in a way that Latvians found amusing. He would fool around on the ice with such finesse that even the tough taskmaster Tikhonov couldn't reprimand him.

The fun-loving Balderis, a natural and self-assured player, was allowed to play for three years with CSKA, then was let go. "Of course the individual games mattered. But when I was on the ice challenging the goalie face to face, nothing mattered except my desire to fake him out. Later I would watch the tape and relive the moment, considering all the nuances of the game."

Among his predecessors, he thought highly of Anatoli Firsov, but he wasn't particularly impressed by fame. "Before I started playing for CSKA, I noticed that Tretiak missed the puck more often when it was shot from a good distance, so instead of trying to fake him out, I shot from a long or middle distance."
Balderis was the only player of his generation to play in the NHL, with the Minnesota North Stars. Trained by the most demanding and toughest of coaches?Tikhonov and Vladimir Yurzinov?he managed to stay on their good side and yet remain true to himself. For Balderis, that was always the greatest satisfaction. He was inducted into the International Ice Hockey Federation's Hall of Fame in 1998.

REGULAR SEASON PLAYOFFS
Season Club League GP G A TP PIM +/- GP G A TP PIM
1967-68 Dynamo Riga USSR-2
1968-69 Dynamo Riga USSR-3
1969-70 Dynamo Riga USSR-3 12 12
1970-71 Dynamo Riga USSR-2 10 10
1970-71 Soviet Union EJC-A 5 10 1 11 4
1971-72 Dynamo Riga USSR-2 14 9 23
1972-73 Dynamo Riga USSR-2 27 15 42
1973-74 Dynamo Riga USSR 24 9 6 15 13
1974-75 Dynamo Riga USSR 36 34 14 48 20
1975-76 Dynamo Riga USSR 36 31 14 45 18
1975-76 Soviet Union WEC-A 10 3 7 10 6
1976-77 Soviet Union Can-Cup 5 2 3 5 6
1976-77 Dynamo Riga USSR 35 40 23 63 57
1976-77 Soviet Union WEC-A 9 8 7 15 4
1977-78 CSKA Moscow USSR 36 17 17 34 30
1977-78 Soviet Union WEC-A 10 9 2 11 8
1978-79 CSKA Moscow USSR 41 24 24 48 53
1978-79 Soviet Union Ch-Cup 3 1 1 2 0
1978-79 Soviet Union WEC-A 8 4 5 9 9
1979-80 CSKA Moscow USSR 42 26 35 61 21
1979-80 CSKA Moscow Super-S 5 5 2 7 2
1979-80 Soviet Union Olympics 7 5 4 9 5
1980-81 Dynamo Riga USSR 44 26 24 50 28
1981-82 Dynamo Riga USSR 50 39 24 63 50
1982-83 Dynamo Riga USSR 40 32 31 63 39
1982-83 Soviet Union WEC-A 10 4 5 9 22
1983-84 Dynamo Riga USSR 39 24 15 39 18
1984-85 Dynamo Riga USSR 39 31 20 51 52
1985-86
1986-87
1987-88
1988-89
1989-90 Minnesota North Stars NHL 26 3 6 9 2 0
1990-91
1991-92 RShVSM-Energo Riga CIS-3 16 14 12 26 10
1991-92 Vecmeistars Riga Latvia 7 23 18 41 27
1992-93 Latvijas Zelts Riga Latvia 22 76 66 142 16
1993-94 Latvijas Zelts Riga Latvia 7 9 9 18 39
1994-95 Essamika Ogre Latvia 1 0 1 1 0
1995-96 Essamika Ogre Latvia 16 18 36 54 12
NHL Totals 26 3 6 9 2


USSR First All-Star Team (1977)
Izvestia Trophy (USSR Top Scorer) (1977, 1983)
USSR Player of the Year (1977)
WEC-A All-Star Team (1977)
Named Best Forward at WEC-A (1977)
Only goals scored totals available for 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons.