Zimin was a member of the Soviet Union ice hockey team at the 1968 Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France. During the tournament, the Soviets won their three preliminary games against Finland, East Germany, and the United States by a combined score of 27-2. In the final round-robin pool, the Soviets won three of four games, defeating West Germany, Sweden, and Canada, to finish first and capture the gold medal. Among Zimin's teammates were backup goalie Victor Zinger, forward Yuriy Moiseyev, and defenseman Vitaliy Davidov.
Zimin returned to the 1972 Sapporo Games as the Soviets defended their championship and won another gold medal.
One of the greatest Soviet hockey players in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Zimin was a right-winger for the Soviet National team that won a gold medal at the World Championship in 1968, 1969, and 1971. Zimin was also a top player in the Soviet League, playing for Lokomotiv Moscow from 1964-1965, Spartak Moscow from 1965-1974, SKA MVO from 1974-1976, and Krylia Sovetov Moscow from 1976-77. He helped his clubs win the Soviet League championship in 1967 and 1969, and finished his career with 184 goals in 315 League games.
In 1972, Zimin participated in the Summit Series against Canada, which has been described as the most important event in Russian hockey history. For the first time, the Soviets played the top professional players in Canada in an eight-game series that both countries still remember. Former Soviet goalie Vladislov Tretiak (whom many consider one of the greatest goalies in hockey history) said: "Those games brought down the wall between Canadian and Russian hockey, two decades before the other walls came down." The Series opened the door for Russian players, many of whom now play in the NHL.
During the 1972 Series, most people in Canada felt they would easily defeat the Soviets, despite the USSR's legendary prowess against amateurs in the Olympics and World Championships. In Game 1, however, Zimin scored twice as the Soviets surprised the Canadians and rolled to a 7-3 victory. Unfortunately, after adding an assist in the second game of the series (a 4-1 Canada victory), Zimin did not play again due to injury. The Series was hard fought, and heading into the eighth, and final, game, it was tied with each team having 3 wins and 1 draw. The final game was tied, 5-5, with less than a minute left when Canada's Paul Henderson took a shot that went through defenseman Yuri Lyapkin and goalie Tretiak and into the Soviet net to win the game, and the Series. One must wonder if the Soviets could have won the series with Zimin in the line-up for all eight games. Zimin is currently a commentator for the Russian League (former Soviet League) and scouts many Russian players for the Philadelphia Flyers of the NHL.
Birth and Death Dates:
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)
New York Times, February 8-20, 1968