About six years ago, me and Peter started RMNB with low expectations. We just wanted to provide some alternative Caps coverage and have some fun. Along the way, several people joined us, and they had a transcendental and magical effect on the site — authors that would take RMNB in a direction we never thought possible. Fedor Fedin was one of those writers. I’m here to tell you that Fedor has departed RMNB. Yes, I’m sad too.
Fedor (pronounced all wacky like this) is a native of Moscow, Russia, and he was one of RMNB’s very first commenters. I’m still not 100% sure if he’s a Putin-bot or not, but Fedor made his first contribution to RMNB in the most Fedor way possible. He direct messaged me in 2009 and showed me a Russian-language interview with Alex Ovechkin. “Do you want me to translate it?” he asked.
A few months later, the teenaged Russian got a byline on the site. Since then, we have talked almost everyday.
Despite never meeting him in person (though we have skyped), I can say that Feds is one of the most giving and passionate people I have ever met. He is soft spoken. He is smart. He is a fantastic translator. He has strong opinions (that he will never relent even if they’re 250% wrong). He sounds nothing like Ivan Drago.
There is an eight-hour time difference between Frederick, Maryland, and Moscow, Russia. For me, most Caps games start at 7 PM. For Fedor, they’d start at 3 in the morning. He would stay up until the crack of dawn — even though school started an hour or two later. It’s a passion for the sport that I have always admired, even as someone who prints out the Caps schedule every year, gives it to my wife, and says, “these are the nights I can’t go out on dates with you.” (Boy, does she deserve better.)
Over the years, Fedor provided insight into Alex Ovechkin and the other Caps Russians that no one else could. Only he was able because only he lived their culture and could communicate it (except when he dropped ‘the”s in every story). We learned the subtleties of Russian smileys, how Tatyana and Mikhail first met, how much of a waffler Evgeny Kuznetsov was, and why the Olympics and World Championship were just so gosh dang important to European players.
On top of that, and it’s important to point this out, Fedor deserves all of the credit for our blog’s biggest accomplishment.
On February 14, 2013, after the Caps beat Tampa 4-3, Fedor sent me a message on AIM around 6 AM his time.
“Hey, I’m about to go to bed, but you should see this.”
I clicked on the link and was horrified. It was video from someone outside of their Russian apartment building recording a large smoke trail in the bright blue morning sky. Thirty seconds later, there was a loud, terrifying boom. Everyone screamed and the video cut off. It was like something out of a Michael Bay movie.
Fedor told me that this happened in Chelyabinsk. We surmised it was an explosion of some sort — of what, we didn’t know. We wondered if it was an attack. I worried about Evgeny Kuznetsov’s wellbeing. Kuzy, 20, was still playing for his hometown KHL team, Traktor Chelyabinsk.
I got Peter involved and we decided to do a post, publishing that video. “Explosions in Chelyabinsk” we first named the story.
Fedor and Peter started searching social media to find out more. Peter found new videos, including dashcam footage. Fedor translated official government news reports as they came in. We updated our post live.
Traffic started pouring in. Reputable news organizations started linking to us.
Eventually it was determined that the smoke trail was from a meteor, one of the largest to enter the earth’s atmosphere in a century.
That story became the first result in Google News for “Chelyabinsk Meteor.” We beat the AP to one of the biggest space stories in modern times by over an hour. We had thousands upon thousands of people coming to our site. The Atlantic wrote about us and NPR invited us to their studio. All because of Fedor.
Our handling of the event was one reason why Ted Leonsis asked us to pitch in on his TV show (which was fun while it lasted).
But there’s so much more about Fedor that you guys don’t know.
If there’s one thing you can do to say thank you to Fedor, it isn’t to follow him on Twitter or say thank you in the comments (even though you should totally do both anyways). It would be to do something nice for someone else and keep it to yourself. If there’s any theme in Fedor’s life, it’s that. He’s selfless. He dedicates his life to making the world better.
Fate works in mysterious ways. I think we can all agree, Fedor coming into our lives and helping us understand the Caps Russians, made rooting for the Caps that much better and without him, things won’t quite be the same.
Thank you for spending so much of the last half-decade writing about the Caps with me, Fedor. It has been an honor.
RMNB is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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