Teaching faculty Nellie Drew '88 was featured in a documentary on defection of Alexander Mogilny


Published November 26, 2014 This content is archived.

“It was fascinating to watch the ramifications of our asylum application for Alex play out upon the world stage. ”
Nellie Drew, Adjunct Professor
SUNY Buffalo Law School

By Charles Anzalone

For SUNY Buffalo Law School sports law expert Nellie Drew, her involvement in the historic Alexander Mogilny defection from Russia and into a Buffalo Sabres uniform had – as she described it — all the elements of a “B” movie, an unlikely script typical of late-night TV.

Now, ample details of Drew’s behind-the-scenes involvement in helping Mogilny elude Russian secret police and – for all intents and purposes – escape to Buffalo to start his high-profile hockey career is part of a 30-minute documentary, “Defector, the Alexander Mogilny Story.”

The in-depth and globe-trotting documentary was shown Nov. 25 on Rogers Sportsnet, a Canadian English-language national sports service channel and website available to 8.2 million Canadian homes.

"As a sports lawyer, it's not every day that  you have the opportunity to help someone gain their freedom,” says Drew, now teaching four courses as an adjunct faculty member for the Law School.

"It was fascinating to watch the ramifications of our asylum application for Alex play out upon the world stage. I can't recall another instance when the signing of a standard player contract was the basis of an international incident."

The documentary, reported by Canadian journalist Jeremy McElhanney, has been in production for months. McElhanney interviewed Drew in O’Brian Hall, the home of the Law School.

“Once he left the hotel in Stockholm, there was a point of no return,” Drew says in the preview.

Drew also discussed the famous case during an interview she gave to UB.

“None of us had ever handled a defection before,” Drew told UB. “By mid-morning, I was on a flight to meet an immigration expert who had handled some asylum cases."

Although the Rogers Sportsnet program is not available on local cable carriers, a link to the full program will be available here after it airs.

For more information on Drew’s legal career, as well as her perspective on major sports issues, such as concussions and negotiating sports contracts, visit UB Reporter. Among other past achievements, she previously predicted successfully that the Buffalo Bills would remain in Buffalo.