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Fetisov is determined to make it through this experience in the traditional Russian way--by suffering. It is his third act of patriotism. In addition to not defecting, he chose not to escape when he was caught in Moscow during the coup that took Gorbachev hostage. Instead, he and his wife went into the streets and stood in front of the tanks.
Now he is trying not just to give Russia the pride of an underdog gold medal but also to build the future by fixing the past. In 1992, when the Unified Team, as the national team was then known, won, coach Viktor Tikhonov wanted a gold medal of his own. So he grabbed one from Nikolai Khabibulin, then 19 and third-string goalie, now Russia's star goaltender. Fetisov plans to get that one back for Khabibulin, even if he wins another. Repairing the Soviets' damage is a grueling patriotic struggle, even for a hero.