Babich was a member of the Soviet Union ice hockey team at the 1956 Winter Olympics in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. During the tournament, the Soviets went unbeaten and won the gold medal as Babich centered the starting line. They defeated Sweden (5-1) and Switzerland (10-3) in the preliminaries, and then dispatched Sweden (4-1), Germany (8-0), Czechoslovakia (7-4), the United States (4-0), and Canada (2-0) in the round-robin finals to win the gold.
Babich, who played right wing, was a member of the Soviet Union's mighty Red Army hockey team in the 1950s. Teamed with legendary Russian scorer Vsevolod Bobrov and center Victor Suvalov, Babich was part of one of the most devastating scoring lines in the history of international hockey. He played for the Soviet Union 59 times and scored 18 goals while working hard in the corners to get the puck to Bobrov. Besides winning the gold medal at the 1956 Games, Babich was a member of the Soviet National team at the World Championships from 1954-1957; they won the gold in 1954, and the silver in 1955 and 1957. He also played in the Russian Hockey League from 1940-1957 and was a member of eight League champion teams: with CSKA Moscow (1948-50), VVS Moscow (1951-1953), and CDSA Moscow (1955, 1956). Babich played in 170 league games and scored 140 goals. He retired from hockey in 1957.
Legendary Soviet coach Anatoli Tarasov (nicknamed the "Father of Soviet hockey") believed that while Bobrov received the recognition, Babich was probably the better player who sacrificed the spotlight for the good of the team. Tarasov wrote: "If we rejected the 1+2 principle (one scorer and two assistants), then how were we to build our forward line...was it possible for three Bobrovs to play on the same line -- three outstanding but quite similar attacking players? I do not think so. But three men like Babich could have made a winning combination. In fact, I feel sure that even the best defensemen in the world could not stop a line of three Babichs. Because Babich could do everything. He would wind up a beautiful attack, he could feed his partners sizzling passes and if need be, he could play defense!"
Birth and Death Dates:
b. 1921- d. 1972
Use links below to navigate through the olympics section of Jews In Sports.
The Jewish Almanac, edited by Richard Siegel and Carl Rheins (New York: Bantam Books, 1980)