(Photo from championshockeyleague.net)
It was very amusing and stimulating to dig into my own memories and share them about the ice hockey during 1980’s as I got some questions from a renowned fellow writer about Viktor Tichonov and his super line, Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Krutov, Alexei Kasatonov, Vyateslav Fetisov and Igor Larionov.
As we all can tell, the hockey maps have changed since then and it is not THAT political anymore. Everything was – at least to say – very political during those days, even a single face off at the time 22:39 during second period was a moment touched by political elements. Every victory for the Soviet hockey team was a victory for the whole Soviet system.
In that perspective we might to have to understand Victor Tichonov’s way of coaching and the pressure he and the players felt.
I’ll never forget the classic Canada cup encounter 1987, as it still gives me the shiver through the body when I’m thinking about it.
That was then, back to present (and to earth)
The Kontinental Hockey league a.k.a the KHL has changed the Russian hockey for the better since it suffered a downfall after 1991, even if there might be a lot to do until it resembles to the NHL. While I have been watching a lot of games, most Jokerit Helsinki and Medveščak Zagreb, I must say that it is undoubtedly at a higher level than any other European hockey league, that’s for sure. Sometimes it is a light year difference.
Should the KHL be involved in the Champions Hockey League?
It’s easy to say yes, because of their high level and dignity, and it would be easy to think of that reason that they also would give the tournament an aura of extravagance. On the other hand: regardless that it is such difference between the KHL and the other leagues in every aspect, I think it is good for the clubs who are involved in the Champions Hockey League to build this tournament by their own strength and belief system as I really think that there is potential to make something really good of this.
The KHL such as it is now is after all at own level and wouldn’t be in such need to join in the European club competition at all. But you never know, and a lot of hockey is a political matter after all even if it is not at the same crucial standpoint as it was during the 1980’s.
The Champions Hockey League, a success of the Czech teams
Beside the KHL and their plans, as the Champions Hockey League is growing in its own speed, it is turning into the final rounds in the group stages Tuesday 23rd-24th September. Some groups have been decided already about which teams are going further into the playoffs, but there are groups where it is not over until “the fat lady sings” and it will most likely be judged on the famous photo finish.
The Finnish and Swedish teams are on top in most of the groups but I find it very interesting that the Czech teams seem to be back at the prime spot, as some of the Czech teams have also achieved advantageous positions before these last and decisive rounds.
May it be a beginning of a revitalization of the Czech hockey?
Oceláři Třinec is leading their group E and Sparta Prague is on top at group G. Bili Tygři Liberec have still the chance to reach at least the second best position in group A which takes them also through to the playoffs. In the group D we find PSG Zlin at the second position now, haunting the Swiss NLA Team Fribourg-Cotteron. Only HC Pardubice, Group F and Vitkovice Ostrava, group H are off the discussions.
If four of six Czech teams reach the playoffs, it should be seen as a great success for the Czech hockey and for the Czech Extraliga, and they can be threatening as well for any team when they are there at the knockout stage.
At least to say as a warning to the other CHL contenders: I wouldn’t ignore these teams.
*Schedule for round 5 and 6: http://www.championshockeyleague.net/page/schedule/8/se/