Monday, September 21, 2009



by HOCKEY OBSERVER permition

"Dumbasses like me don't defect to other countries!"

Boris Alexandrov. Red Army and Soviet National Team

Despite the slender build, Boris Alexandrov, not only scored a lot of goals to Canadians, but firmly fight them back every possible time.
What makes us proud of our country? One and only answer cannot be provided. Someone contemplating, looking at the green birch trees, someone's heart stops, when the heavy tanks are roaring thruogh the Red Square, and some remembering the ballet and the cosmos, where we always were the first, and for tens of millions of citizens our hockey remains as our greatest proud.
The greatest athletes of the world, receiving miserable wages, magicians of the puck, easily interacting with Brezhnev and Gagarin, but often lived in one-room closet, people unusually gifted physically, who by age of thirty had this seemingly endless resource drained to the bottom, national heros across the country, through two or three years turning into a chronic alcoholics, people with disabilities who die sometimes just before retirement, but also not passing forty years mark...
After a career they were forgotten firmly and permanently. Someone was able to become a coach, someone friends were able to help to get a job at a prestigious car service, but someone went up to play hockey till fifty in the lower leagues, or for veterans, earning a penny, but knowing that nothing else he could do himself feed him. It’s a different fate of the once greats. But why is "once"? For us, they are great. After all, there is no such thing as “former” Olympic champions...
In the spring of 1996 along with a photographer Anatoly Belyasov I was sitting in a cozy apartment of one of the most beloved hockey players of our country, Boris Alexandrov. His stocky figure exuded calm and confidence. A huge black Labrador dog, manipulative calmed down and was lying at the feet of the master.
We drank tea and were talking slowly, remembering the old days. Boris smiled, glancing out the window at the Tushino (the Moscow suburb – A.N) new buildings, the church at Volokolamka and nature awakens across the “Koltsevaja” Highway. And none of us could have known that seeing each other we had last time and it was his interview would also be the last – this interview was destined to go to print after almost seven years after meeting, after the tragic death of this great player last year.
In two days Boris left to Ust-Kamenogorsk, where I received a fax from him short: "Excellent! You can print ". But it so happened that I left print company, which was prepared to print this interview, went to the civil service, and the text stayed in my old notebook for all these years...
After the death of Boris, I began looking for it, but never found - while repairing a computer was "cleaned". But quite by accident, going through my archives, I came across a dozen of the old floppies. Stuck the first one into my computer and found ... seemingly lost files!

Boris Alexandrov. Izvestia Prize 1976. Photo by Nikale1

- Tell me, Boris, when you were in 1972, watching on TV the first games the USSR played against team NHL, did you think that after several years the kids of Ust-Kamenogorsk would just admire your game against Montreal and Philadelphia?
- Not that I thought, I was just hoping to play against Canadian professionals. There already one already a well-known player in Ust-Kamenogorsk - Eugene Paladiev (Spartak Moscow and Soviet national team defender, 1972 series participant – A.N), so that everyone understood that the road to great hockey for us is not that closed. One needed only to get to a decent team.
- But it was crazy competition among the forwards in CSKA. Mikhailov and Petrov and Kharlamov, and Firsov with Vikulov, and other stars all played that time for Red Army...
- In March 1973 CSKA came to us for two friendly games, though without the major players, the national team members in the roster. I played not too bad against them, scored, I guess three goals. In general, after some time came Anatoly Firsov, who was the playing coach of CSKA Moscow, talked with my parents, and in August 1973 I found myself in Moscow. I played for the main CSKA and, when the schedule allowed, for the youth CSKA team as well. In 1974-1975 I began to play for the Soviet Junior team, participated in two World Championships.
- You go out on the ice in the main Soviet league 22 years ago. Now in 1996 you are doing it for the Ust-Kamenogorsk Torpedo. When was it easier to play?
- Now the level of hockey is greatly fallen. And of course, the veterans - Vasily Pervukhin, Alexander Kozhevnikov, and me – we all feel pretty calm. In addition, when I started to play most teams played three lines. Now every team is playing four lines, one cannot even be too tired after the game. In the past, players approaching the thirty years mark accumulated fatigue from hockey.
- But you know, Boris, I am quite sure that in case Larionov stayed in Russia he wouldn’t play any hockey now...
- But the NHL – is a different matter. The people there are playing for a lot of money, they want to extend their hockey career, earn a little more for the rest of their life. And we, once again I say, were much more tired by that age. I now think of my youth: we have never been at home. It was permanent camp at Archangelsky, no family, no friends, nobody. Viktor Tikhonov used to keep us for nine months on the base itself, and by the way, lived with us all this time. And from this one gets tired most of all - the same room, same person, same talk about hockey ...
- And every vocation out of camp turned into a full-drunkenness, everything that is said, were out of any “border”. Right?
- For me, just sitting at the training camp was a torture. I'm kind of funny and emotional man, so when the suppressed emotions were given way out... someone did it quietly, drank a glass almost under his pillow, then trembled - just hoping the coach would not smell the alcohol, about my “actions” at that time everybody knew. Usually, after the hard game, unmarried young players from CSKA Moscow, met in the restaurant on the air terminal, it only began where, and then we moved to the "Belgrad" (famous Moscow restaurant – A.N)and had all this “celebrations” finished where...
- And What about other restaurants, "Beijing" for instance? Did not you attend it?
- No, "Beijing" - it was a Dynamo restaurant (meaning this one was common for Moscow Dynamo hockey players – A.N). Spartak after the winning game can be found in Aragvi (another famous Moscow restaurant – A.N). So our leisure all was organized about the same: win, drank, walked, fall asleep, and – back to the camp.
- How it was from the coaches view?
- It varies. Konstantin Loktev, for example, didn’t not welcome such "rest", then, at least, understood that players needed it, and did not not punished for such things. For him playing hockey was more important, not what one does off-ice. But Viktor Vasiljevich (Tikhonov – A.N) had different attitude ...
- And how these fairly decent dose of alcohol affect the physical condition?
- When you young, it did not affect you. We do not drink hard drinks, mostly champagne. When the organism is young, trained, you go out the next day to workout, run, sweating ... To play the game in two days in general you are a hundred percent ready. But such "alcoholic" days we were given infrequently, two or three times a month. The rest of the time we were just sitting at the camps – no way out.
- But at the training camps you all also drank as well...
- Sometimes, but rarely. If someone had a birthday, we drove into the woods; birthday boy took out of the trunk a few bottles of champagne. We all drank and one got congratulated ...

Boris Alexandron And Mats Waltin

- This summer, when in the same Archangelsky camp, I spoke with Tikhonov, I saw this picture: young players from CSKA Moscow (the eldest - 23 years), went out after training, smoke, and Tikhonov, pretends not to notice ...
- Before he could any star just get "buried" for such thing. Great many players finished to play ahead of time just because of Tikhonov! Sasha (Alexander – A.N)Gusev (CSKA and Soviet national team defender –A.N) Tikhonov removed from the team too early, and Mikhailov-Petrov-Kharlamov line was ruined by his own hands. Tarasov created, but Tikhonov destroyed (Red Army team – A.N). When he arrived, they were already great hockey players, so knowledgeable and able to do everything in hockey, to the same they were self-willed people, so Tikhonov “finished” them one by one and removed ...
- You too? For in due time about your transfer to the SKA MVO (despite the fact that you were one of the best scorers in the league) passed around so many rumours ...
- Well, you know, rumours are rumours, but in reality it was so - in 1979 we played in Leningrad back-to-back games with SKA. We had one game played already. I stood on the steps of the hotel and talking to my girlfriend who was from Leningrad - a figure skater Marina Leonidova (famous Soviet ex-figure skater – A.N). Time was - fifteen minutes past eleven. Tikhonov arrives: Oh, so-so, tomorrow game, and you're standing here with a prostitute ... Well, I replied in the same spirit, were not in very decent shape. In general, the next day it was the team meeting - I was sent to Moscow as result. I was offended, didn’t go back to Moscow, and remained in Leningrad for another four days. And when I returned to Moscow, I found out that I already belong to SKA MVO...

Boris Alexandrov. Spartak Moscow. Photo by Nikale1 1981

- How did you manage to escape from the army to Spartak?
- Of course, from CSKA Moscow, with such fans as Brezhnev, Ustinov (the minister of defence – A.N), I would not be able to get away, but from SKA MVO was easier (Just a comment for the non ex-Soviet readers – SKA MVO at this time was the second Soviet league team which can be regarded as CSKA farm club if not less – that made Alexandrov’s escape possible as moving him down to this team indicated the finish of his career as a top player - A.N). But Boris Pavlovich Kulagin, coach of Spartak, had to work hard to get me. There were government members Spartak supporters as well so the special decision has been made and I was released peacefully.
- Boris, despite your slender build, you had the reputation of one of the toughest players in our hockey. You even called in CSKA Cassius Clay (that was ironically – A.N)...
- The nickname I was given by Zhenya (Evgeny – A.N) Mishakov (Read Army and Soviet national team forward – A.N). We played a tournament in 1973 where there were constant skirmishes, fights, someone I have sent to knockout like a boxer so that's how I got a nickname.
- Have you done any boxing specifically?
- I was engaged with soccer, and gymnastics, and boxing - all quite seriously. Anyway, I have my boxer blow set right.
- Due to this, you could knock down the huge Canadians?
- Well, first of all, I had a very good skating, I stand on skates excellent (It is what, in my opinion, Crosby doing perfectly, but not Malkin – sorry for off-point comment - A.N), I felt the distance. Secondly, I felt, when nobody was waiting my hit or body check. There were times to count, where the player is about to pass, has his head bowed, I met him - and got him flying easily.

Boris Alexandrov. Torpedo Head Coach

- Recently on TV two decades ago game CSKA vs. Canadiens was shown again, which is still widely considered the most beautiful game of modern hockey. During this game you did not only sent Canadians “flying” (Hm..?! – A.N), but also scored the decisive goal, equalized the game...
- Till that time I just turned twenty years old, but I had no fear of the Canadians at all. On the contrary, I wanted to bet with them, to score against them. Here we are with you remembered the games of 1972. Me, up to tears, it was sad for hockey players, who were beaten, but they did not respond. And then I already decided to take revenge for them avenged. I did revenge: I have got the Canadians beaten, I scored against them, depriving the sweetest victory in the historic match. Imagine how they would be proud if this game finished with a score of 3:2. But I did not give them to do so.
- Were you offered to stay in Canada, U.S., play in the NHL?
- Of course, I was offered. But we were so “watched”, we were "herded" what we failed even talk about this with anyone. Even if a few words had been shared with someone of the emigrants, one had already been taken for bad memo ... When we played The World Junior Champ in Winnipeg, I was offered to stay in Canada. Then after the game with "Montreal" I was offered to sign a decent contract.
- And did you really have no desire to stay?
- No, I didn’t. There were times when we stayed in Canada and have played for a month; we were already waiting for the last few days to fly back home. I still thinks that Dumbasses like me(“раздолбаи” in Russian version – A.N), do not stay in other countries, it was possible for “quiet” person ... And I could not imagine myself out of Russia.
- But you still got to Italy.
- It was during the Soviet restructuring (Gorbachev “perestroika” – A.N). At that time I was a leader among the highest scorers in the elite league, scored 33 points while playing in Ust-Kamenogorsk during the first phase of the championship. That was the reason the special personal contract came to me from Milan. I played in Italy 28 games and scored 33 goals. But I was forced to leave Italy just next year. In Italy hockey a Canadian lobby was very strong. There were quite a lot of Italian-Canadians, who played in Canada. All their contracts were twice of our cost. They had everything done to get rid of the other foreigners. If we lost, then everything was normal, but if you start winning, then you should never get a pass from them. You almost have to take the puck by force from your partner, to cross entire rink and to score. So they changed me to a Canadian of Italian origin ...
- So, Boris, you're finished playing, absolutely stopped any drinking, took possession of a lucrative service station, bought a silver Chevrolet and got yourself “bourgeoisified” and finally calmed down. And what possessed you after two years of quiet life to return to hockey as a player?
- I was invited to play for the national team of Kazakhstan at the 1994 World Cup. I arrived to Ust-Kamenogorsk, practiced with the team. But to play for the national team did not happened. I had a Moscow residence permit (“Propiska” in Russian – it’s pointless even to try to explain the meaning of this institute to non ex-Soviets – A.N). But after that I remained with Ust-Kamenogorsk team. The normal conditions were created for me there; I played mostly in the "home" games, no special camps, I was scoring quietly somewhat... Well, Then I became part-time senior coach of Kazakhstan national team. And then appointment of the head coach of the Ust-Kamenogorsk Torpedo all of a sudden had fallen. In addition to being a coach, at any time I get on the ice, if I feel that the team without me lose ...

... With Torpedo (Ust-Kamenogorsk) and the national team of Kazakhstan Alexandrov has reached great achievements. Team under his direction performed at the Olympics in Nagano, 98 in group A and has taken 5-8-th place. In July 2002, Boris was suddenly removed from the club. It was some rumours talked about financial improprieties (though the head coach has nothing to do with money), discontent with some hockey players ...
It is clear that Boris was very upset. But the main thing is beyong it. If Boris remained with "Torpedo", he would hardly go out of Ust-Kamenogorsk to drive to Moscow through Chelyabinsk and Ufa, where his youngest son, Victor has played a small tournament with the capital's Spartak. On the evening on July 31 while driving by his wife's brother, Boris, the car went to overtake a bus, flew into the opposite lane and was faced with the "Volga" ...
Boris Alexandrov was 46 years old. A great hockey player he was buried in Moscow Mitinskoe cemetery.

Alex Bogomolov February 24, 2003

Sunday, September 6, 2009


"He (Tarasov) squeezed every ounce of energy and performance out of his players. Even the slightest hint of self-importance was dealt with mmediately.
According to Tarasov, egoism on the ice was the gravest of all sins."

The Hockey Hall Of Fame

Time is running, years are rushing out with no mercy to anyone even if you are the famous ever hockey coach... The my yesterday question right answer is ANATOLI VLADIMIROVICH TARASOV, the first Soviet championship best scorer, the "father of Soviet hockey", the person who devoted all his life till the last days to the game named HOCKEY. Here are his photos through the years...







Tuesday, August 18, 2009


by Hockey Observer

QUEBEC -- A former Quebec junior goaltender facing assault charges for an on ice incident believes police unfairly targeted him because he has a famous father.

A lawyer for Jonathan Roy, son of hall-of-fame goaltender Patrick Roy, is seeking to have the case dismissed.

At a hearing Monday, Saguenay police investigator Larry Boudreau admitted other players committed violent acts during the game but that only Roy caught the attention of police.

During the incident in question, the ex-Remparts player skated the length of the rink and pummelled opposing goalie Bobby Nadeau during a March 2008 game.

Footage of the beating was widely broadcast on television and the Internet and was the impetus for changes to how punishments are doled out in the Quebec league for extreme violence.

Roy received a seven-game suspension, while his famous father, who is the head coach and part owner of the Remparts, got a five-game suspension for encouraging his son to fight.

In a motion filed in court last month, Roy's lawyer Steve Magnan, alleged Quebec's director of public prosecutions issued a directive four months after the incident regarding how charges should be levied following sports brawls.

He argued the directive was issued just three days before charges were laid against his client.

During the hearing Monday, Nadeau himself testified he suffered no injuries as a result of the beating and that investigators called him days before the charges were laid to find out if he'd been hurt.

Roy's lawyer revealed the investigator urged Nadeau to admit he was injured in the fight.

Marianne White, Canwest News Service
Published: Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Roger Gagnon photo for Canwest News Service
Quebec Remparts goalie Jonathan Roy (left) rains down punches on Chicoutimi Saguenéens goalie Bobby Nadeau during a second-period brawl in Chicoutimi March 22, 2008.

QUEBEC - Former Habs goaltender Patrick Roy and his son have both been suspended for their part in a brawl during a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoff game Saturday night.

The elder Roy - who coaches his son's team - is suspended for five games for his prejudicial conduct. He was caught on camera gesturing to his son, but denied he encouraged him to fight.

Jonathan Roy, who plays goal for the Quebec Remparts, will sit out seven games. He was also fined $500.

Tuesday a chief prosecutor asked the Quebec Public Security department to launch a police inquiry into the incidents.

Breaking his silence Tuesday Patrick Roy apologized for the incident, in particular to Chicoutimi netminder Bobby Nadeau, who was struck repeatedly by his son during the incident.

"If I had better controlled the situation Jonathan would not have had to live what he lived through in the last 48 hours," he said.

Roy said he has sought to properly supervise his players so they could become "better persons" but added he "wasn't perfect."

"I have always sought to give them the best I could and know that I sometimes made mistakes," he said. "My objective is to not repeat these types of mistakes."

Both teams, the Remparts and the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, are fined $4,000.

Richard Martel, the Sagueneens coach, received a two-game suspension.

Remparts defenceman Maxime Lacroix was also suspended for three games after hitting an opposing player while he was still down. His teammate, Marc-Oliver Vallerand, received a two-game suspension for his role in the melee.

Sagueneens winger Antoine Roussel received a one-game suspension for being the instigator in a fight, while his teammate Charles-Antoine Messier was suspended for two games. Another player, Sebastien Rioux, will miss his team's next six games for leaving the penalty box to enter the brawl.

The league's commissioner and the disciplinary committee made the decisions Tuesday after reviewing the incident.

The Commissioner of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Gilles Courteau, said the organization was deeply troubled by the weekend's events.

"I'd like to warn organizations that these types of incidents will not be tolerated and that should any more occur, steep fines will be handed out," he said in a statement.

During the second period of the game, with the Remparts facing a six-goal deficit, Roy skated across the ice to deliver a pounding to Nadeau.

Following the melee, which involved almost all players from both teams, Roy also gave the crowd in the packed Chicoutimi arena the finger before leaving the ice. On Monday, he apologized for that but did not express remorse for fighting with the rival goalie.

The Sagueneens went on to win Saturday's game 10-1, tying the series at 1-1. The series was continuing Tuesday night.

Quebec Premier Jean Charest was to attend the game at Quebec's Colisee, along with Health Minister Philippe Couillard.

On Monday, Quebec Education and Sports Minister Michelle Courchesne said that she will get in touch with the league's commissioner and other provinces' counterparts to discuss trying to put an end to fighting in junior hockey.

The minister, whose son once played for the Remparts, didn't give any details on the actions she could take but said the violence had to stop.

There is a great rivalry between the Remparts and the Sagueneens and many incidents have occurred in the past, but never as ugly as Saturday.

Monday, August 17, 2009



This Interview was given by ex-New York Rangers forward Nikolai Zherdev who has recently become unrestricted free agent to Russia media one week ago.

Nikolai Zherdev, whose contract with the Rangers ended after the end of the season, insisted salary 4,7 million dollars, while the club was ready to offer Russian, only 3.2 million. In the end, it came to arbitration, which awarded Zherdev the annual salary of 3.9 million. But New York doesn't want to offer such contract to our legionnaire, as result he became unrestricted free agent.

- Maybe it is better that the initiative of "Rangers" did not go back down and abandon you? Now you are free in their choice.
- While I do not even know how all this is assessed. I do not know well what I have to change the team or not. I must confess: I have believed until recently that, Rangers agree with my contract conditions. Perhaps, only time will put all points on the i.

- Negotiations with other clubs, you must believe in the midst?
- So far has not been definitively resolved the issue with Rangers, we do not talk with anybody. I'm permanently in touch with my agent, we discuss emerging options. Called many clubs have already expressed interest in my services.

- There are KHL teams interested as well?
- Yes, but, as I have repeatedly emphasized, I would like to continue my career in the NHL - this option is for me a priority. Although the chance that will come back to play in Russia, does not rule away.

- Not so long ago appeared information that you plan to begin preparations for the season along with the Moscow "Atlanta." Does this mean that you can go back to the club, the colors which have once defended?
- It was no negotiation with "Atlanta" at all.

- And how realistic your appearance in "Salavat Yulaev"?
- I will not hide: it is one of the options.

- In Ufa team you have more friends than any other KHL club.
- Judging by those players who are invited to the national team, then yes. But this does not mean that my future club becomes "Salavat". Active negotiations would begin as soon as possible. Let's see who will have more need of me and who will offer the best conditions.

- So you do not hurry?
- Yes, I cannot determine any specific dates.

- Recently it was a list of participants published by FHR for pre-Olympics camp, which will be held in Moscow in late August. Surprisingly, you are not among the 38 hockey players, caused by Vyacheslav Bykov.
- Frankly, this surprised me too. Because some time ago I have already seen myself on the Internet list of candidates.

- That list, as it turned out, was a "duck." What, in your opinion, the reasons may be in the national team coaches do not call you?
- Do not even imagine that on this occasion to think.

- I believe, the last time you chatted with Bykov was at the World championships in Switzerland, did you?
- No, we were in touch with him just two weeks ago. But the theme of the pre-olympic camp wasn't affected.

- According to some reports, coaches seem to have been unhappy with the fact that you couldn't finish playing until the end of the World Championship ...
- But I also played in Switzerland, two games with a broken finger! I just could not play any more!

- Perhaps you will come in later list. Do you think you have a chance to go to the Olympics?
- I do not know. But to me, of course, I would like to play at the Games in Vancouver. I dreamed about it long ago.

- If you are going to play in the KHL, but even more so in the "Salavat", the chances will increase for sure.
- Who knows. I think the main thing in this matter - show a decent game.



Harry Watson scores at will in Olympics Chamonix, France January 25 - February 5, 1924

Harry Watson (centre) scored 36 goals in five Olympic games in 1924.

Imagine a hockey player at the highest level of play who was so good that he scored practically whenever he wanted. Such was the skill of Canada’s Harry Watson at the 1924 Olympics in Chamonix, France. Watson played just five games that year, but he scored a preposterous 36 goals!

He went by the nickname “Moose”, and, to be sure, Watson was one of the biggest players on ice in any game he played, even in Canada. But he was immensely skilled with the puck and could also skate as well as anyone, making him a threat every time he had the puck. To wit, in Canada’s first game of the 1924 tournament, against Czechoslovakia, Watson scored three goals in the first period, six goals in the second, and two more in the third — a total of eleven goals. And, remember, this was when games were only 45 minutes long (3 x 15). Final score — Canada 30, Czechoslovakia 0.

HARRY WATSON. photo by International Hockey Legends

by Wikipedia:
Harold Ellis "Moose" Watson (July 14, 1898 – September 11, 1957) was a Canadian amateur ice hockey forward who played for the Toronto Granites and the 1924 Canadian Winter Olympic hockey team.

Born in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Watson also lived in England and Winnipeg, Manitoba before moving to Toronto at the age of 15. He played for the Whitby Athletics in the Ontario Hockey Association. He then played for St. Andrews College and was a first team all-star in 1915. Watson played for the Toronto Aura Lee before serving in the Canadian military during World War I.

After the war, Watson joined the Toronto Dentals in a playoff series against the Hamilton Tigers, which the Tigers won. For the 1919-20 season, he joined the new Toronto Granites, the OHA team from the Toronto Granite Club. Led by Watson, the Granites won the Allan Cup in 1921-22 and 1922-23, with Watson named a first-team all-star in both seasons. They then represented Canada at the 1924 Winter Olympics, winning the ice hockey gold medal. At the Olympics, Watson scored 37 goals in five games as the Canadian team outscored the opposition 132-3 over six games.

He turned down several lucrative offers to play professionally in the National Hockey League. Charlie Querrie, manager of the Toronto St. Patricks, offered Watson $10,000 to join his team for the 1924-25 season, but Watson declined. His Granites teammate Hooley Smith would have a 17-year NHL career, but Watson wanted to enter the business world and retired as a player in 1924.

In 1930, he became coach of the Toronto National Sea Fleas senior amateur team. During the 1931 playoff season, Watson refereed several OHA games. In December 1931, during his second season behind the bench for the Sea Fleas, Watson made a brief comeback as a player at the age of 33 after one of his players was unable to make a road trip. As coach, Watson guided the team to the Allan Cup in 1932.

Watson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1962 and the IIHF Hall of Fame in 1998.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009



by Hockey Observer

Although there were similar games played around the globe, Canadian ice hockey was the one to achieve dominance.

For example: bandy hockey -- a game very close to modern ice hockey and native to Europe -- was modified and later fully replaced by ice hockey. When the first European Championships took place in 1910 the game was a mixture of elements of both bandy and ice hockey. The difference between the two was mainly the rules and the equipment used by players. Bandy hockey used shorter sticks and the protective equipment was also rather modest. The Canadian form of the game had fully replaced the other variations on the European continent during the Olympic Games in Chamonix in 1924.

In 1908, the International Ice Hockey Federation, an international organization that still runs most of the international hockey tournaments today, was established. In Slovakia (as a part of former Czechoslovakia), Canadian ice hockey was popularized during the European Championships in High Tatras in 1925.

In 1929 the first official tournament took place in Slovakia. The Tatra Cup is the second oldest tournament in Europe, after the Spengler Cup in Switzerland. The first organization of Slovak ice hockey was established under the name of Slovenská župa kanadského ľadového hokeja as a part of the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation in what was then Czechoslovakia.

The first organized competition was held in 1930. Subsequently, the first Slovak team who were able to compete with the stronger Czech teams was HC Tatry in 1936. Another team from Slovakia joined the common competition in the following year.

Throughout the course of ice hockey history in Czechoslovakia, many Slovak players became eligible to play for the Czechoslovakian national team. Among those who were able achieve this was Ladislav Troják; A native of Košice who left for Prague to play for the LTC Praha -- at those times considered to be the best ice hockey team in the country -- in 1934. From there he was only a step away from playing for the national team.


There are many others who also made Slovakia famous for ice hockey around the world. Some examples are:

Matej Buckna, a Canadian coach of Slovak origin, who helped to develop ice hockey in Czechoslovakia.
Vladimír Dzurilla, a goalkeeper who helped Czechoslovakia to achieve a number of remarkable international triumphs and a player of an older generation.
Ján Starší, highly respected coach and team manager, also from an older generation.
Similarly to the Czech Republic, Slovakia is internationally considered to be a breeding ground for talented players, many of whom are playing in the best leagues in the world, of which the NHL is the most prestigious.

Czechoslovakia and its successor states are rated as being among the leading nations on the international scene, thanks to their triumphs in the Winter Olympic Games and the World Championships.

However, the Slovak national team had to face a difficult challenge in 1993 after the dissolution of Czechoslovakia. According to the IIHF regulations it had to compete with countries with little or no ice hockey tradition at all to prove being worthy to compete at the highest level. Many ice hockey experts and journalists found this rather humiliating for Slovakia. It has since found its way all the way back to the top. Within only a few years of independent existence as a young nation it would mark its biggest triumph ever by winning the world championships in Sweden in 2002.

Peter Stastny (right) ended his magnificent NHL-career in 1995 at the age of 39 and made sure to promote his native Slovakia to the A-pool of the IIHF World Championships later the same season. A wonderful ending to an outstanding career.