Bautin passes away at 55
by Andrew Podnieks|06 JAN 2023
Sergei Bautin during the 1999 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
photo: IIHF Archive
Sergei Bautin, a member of the 1992 Unified Team’s Olympic gold victory, passed away on New Year’s Eve 2022 after a lengthy illness related to an oncological disease. He was 55.

Born in Rogachyov in what is today Belarus, Bautin developed in the Soviet league, first with Kristall Saratov and later Dynamo Moscow, where he cemented his reputation as a first-rate defensive defender. He helped Dynamo win the league championship twice, in 1991 and ’92. Big and tough, he helped the Unified Team win four of five games in the preliminary round of the Albertville Olympics in 1992, losing only to Czechoslovakia. In the playoffs, they beat Finland, the United States, and, finally, Canada, 3-1, to win an historic gold for a country in transition.

“The Hockey Club Dynamo expresses its condolences to the family and friends of Sergei Viktorovich,” the team wrote in a statement. “This is an irreplaceable loss for the Dynamo family. We mourn with you.”

“The Winnipeg Jets Hockey Club is saddened by the news of the death of former player of our club, Sergei Bautin. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.” 

A few months later, he played for Russia at the World Championship, but by this time the old Soviet Union had been completely dismantled and the team finished fifth. Nevertheless, with players now able to move to North America freely, Bautin was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets that summer of 1992, a lofty 17th overall.

Bautin joined the Jets that fall, and for the better part of two years was a steady performer, often being paired with another Russian, Igor Ulanov. But in March 1994, Bautin was part of a big trade with Detroit that saw him and goalie Bob Essensa go to the Red Wings for Dallas Drake and Tim Cheveldae. 

As it turned out, Bautin didn’t much fit in Detroit’s plans, playing mostly for their AHL farm team in Adirondack. In the summer of 1995, he signed with San Jose as a free agent, but he played only one game, his last in the NHL. Bautin became an itinerant pro after that, skating in the IHL before moving to Europe and playing in Sweden (with Lulea, where he led the league in penalty minutes in 1996/97), Germany, Japan, and then back in Russia at the end of his career.

After his first season with Lulea, Bautin once again played at the World Championship, in Finland. Russia finished fourth after losing to the Czechs, 4-3, in the bronze-medal game. Two years later, he played his final international event, the 1999 Worlds in Norway, where Russia finished fifth.

After retiring in 2004, Bautin moved back to the United States to coach youth hockey in Kansas City, where he had played in the Sharks’ system. He later coached in Colorado and Japan before returning home.

Bautin was inducted into the Russian Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.