The thaw in superpower relations spread to the ice rink today as hockey officials and diplomats announced that the Washington Capitals and Calgary Flames will play Soviet teams in Leningrad and Moscow next September. The games will be the first in which National Hockey League teams have competed in the Soviet Union. "I think it would be a wonderful occasion if we had as much unanimity inside the United Nations as we have here today about hockey; I'm sure the world would be a better place," said the second-ranking U.S. diplomat to the United Nations, Ambassador Herbert S. Okun. He gave a Capitals team jersey to the third-ranking Soviet U.N. diplomat, Victor A. Zvezdin, who reciprocated by giving Okun a jersey with the U.S. ambassador's name emblazoned on the back. NHL president John Ziegler said the trip will cost the two teams a little more than $1 million.
Soviet club teams have played in North America six times since 1975, the most recent appearance being this season's 14-game series featuring two top Soviet teams: Central Army and Dynamo Riga.