17 February 1955|
Riga, Soviet Union
|Died||7 October 1994
|Height||6 ft 2 in (188 cm)|
|Weight||217 lb (98 kg; 15 st 7 lb)|
|Position||Defense / Left Wing|
|Played for||Dynamo Riga|
|NHL Draft||160th overall, 1975
|WHA Draft||116th overall, 1975
|Representing Soviet Union|
|World Junior Championships|
|1975 Canada and USA|
Viktors Hatuļevs (17 February 1955 – 7 October 1994) was a Latvian ice hockey defenseman and left winger who played for Dinamo Riga in the Soviet Hockey League. He was the first Soviet player drafted in the National Hockey League (NHL) Amateur Draft but never had a chance to play in North America since Soviet players were not allowed to play for foreign teams.
Hatuļevs played for Dinamo Riga in the 1970s. In Latvia, then a part of the USSR, ice hockey was the number one sport. Riga's Dinamo, under Viktor Tikhonov, rocketed into the big league and competed with Moscow teams as an equal.
Hatuļevs played in the first World Junior Championships in Leningrad and second World Junior Championships in Winnipeg and Brandon, Manitoba. The two unofficial tournaments helped set the stage for the first official World Juniors in 1977. He was the best player in the World Youth hockey championship in 1974/75, and in 1973/74 he was the best goal scorer.
At age of 20, Hatuļevs became the first Soviet-born and trained player ever drafted by an NHL team. The Philadelphia Flyers made the historic selection at the 1975 NHL Amateur Draft in the ninth round, 160th overall, even though there was no chance of getting him out of the USSR. Hatuļevs was also selected by the Cleveland Crusaders in the ninth round, 116th overall, of the 1975 WHA Amateur Draft.
But instead of being allowed to play in North America, he was banned from Soviet hockey for five years in 1975 for fighting, though the suspension was later lifted. He was also not allowed to leave the USSR.
There are rumors that he was banned from playing because he was drafted, in order to prevent other players from thinking about playing in foreign countries and to make American teams forget about getting any Soviet players.
Hatuļevs himself learned that he had been drafted only in 1978 when he returned to hockey after his suspension was lifted. He also played also 6 games for Team USSR in 1977-1978 in the Izvestia Cup in Moscow.
He turned down an offer to move to Moscow and play for the USSR Central Red Army hockey club, instead preferring to remain in his native Latvia. (It should be mentioned that in Soviet times most of the best players were transferred to the Central Red Army club, and refusing such a transfer resulted in punishment.)
In 1981 Hatuļevs was banned for life from the Soviet Hockey League for hitting a referee during a fight with another player.
Banishment and death
After he was banned for life from the Soviet Hockey League in 1981, Hatuļevs became a taxi driver. He later worked in a warehouse and struggled with alcoholism. He had also served time in prison for dealing drugs during his playing days.
Hatuļevs was found dead in the street in mysterious circumstances at age 39 on 7 October 1994.
- World Junior Championships — Gold (1974) (Unofficial Tournament)
- World Junior Championships Points Leader (1974)
- World Junior Championships — Gold (1975) (Unofficial Tournament)
- World Junior Championships Best Forward (1975)
- World Junior Championships All-Star First Team (1975)
GP = Games played; G = Goals; A = Assists; Pts = Points; PIM = Penalty minutes;
Super Series statistics