On 11 December 1908, the delegates of twelve hockey clubs met in the Prague restaurant “U platýze” and established the Czech Ice Hockey Association (at that time named the Czech Federation of Hockey). Emil Procházka, one of the most active administrators of that time and the person who initiated the proceedings, had to organize everything many times – and then discrepancies within club structures made operation of the Federation impossible and the General Meeting was held for a second time on 18 December, a third time on 30 December 1908, and a fourth time on 13 January 1909. Only then was the first chairperson elected – J. Potůček from BZK Prague (the Professional Skating Club). Without a doubt, the most interesting thing was that Bohemia was already at that time a member of the International Ice Hockey Association, the LIHG (as the second founding member). Nevertheless, Bohemia did not have its own domestic federation, nor did it even then exist as an independent country – Bohemia was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire!
The first information about hockey came to Bohemia at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth century through the foreign press. Bandy hockey, hockey played with a ball was already known and quite wide-spread at that time but the Canadian version of the game was new. Athletes from the Czech Lands (Bohemia and Moravia), then Czechoslovakia, and at present the Czech Republic have over the following hundred years worked hard to be at the top of the hockey world, in spite of the fact that natural conditions have not always been favourable to hockey.
Probably the first Czech who ever played the Canadian brand of hockey was Earl Colloredo Mansfeld who tried the game with straight sticks and a puck during his stay in Canada. Two years later the first player from overseas, J. Anderson, appeared in the Czech bandy hockey team PKC Ruch. He did not bring any Canadian hockey equipment with him but – as newly uncovered sources show: “He did not beat the ball with a stick but he shifted the ball back and forth on the ice and led it”. Anderson defended his unorthodox style by explaining that in Canada instead of a ball, a sort of round little board was used in games. Czech hockey players became familiar with this style of playing the game and saw with their own eyes this “little board” for the first time on a trip to Chamonix, where they took part in an international tournament from 23 January to 30 January 1909. They lost in their first game against France 8-1 (the team members were: Gruss – Malý, J. Fleischmann – Hammer – Jarkovský, Vindyš, Palouš) but they also gave a sign that Europe would have to take account of the Czechs in the future. In the same year in Prague four teams played to decide the first national champion (Slavia beat Spolek in the final 8-1) and hockey began to seep into the subconscious of fans and the sports-loving public.
In 1909, the Czechs played in Chamonix and foreign journalists took note, writing that the Czechs deserved to be considered a team to be reckoned with.
In 1911, the first foreign team, the Oxford Canadians, arrived for a game and then the national team set off, for the first time, for the European Championship. On 15 February 1911, the Czechs played their opening game. They beat Switzerland 13-0, and a couple of hours later the same day beat Germany 4-1, and on the 17 February, Belgium too by a score of 3-0. The Czechs finished beautifully – with the title, the fullest possible number of points from the games played, and a combined score of 20-1.
After the break-up of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 the Czech Ice Hockey Association was renamed the Czechoslovak Ice Hockey Association, and there began another stage of development. Czechoslovakia won medals regularly at European and World Championships (which date from the 1920 Antwerp Olympics). In that inaugural World Championship/Olympic Games, they won bronze behind Canada and the USA. The fan and player base grew after these many worthy accomplishments. But Czechoslovakia was still looking forward to that elusive World Championship gold. The players from the little country in the heart of Europe waited patiently.
The first championship came after the end of World War II, organized in Prague at the Štvanice stadium. They beat their opponents with a substantial goal differential but in the end needed the Austrians’ help to win. The Austrians surprisingly took two points from mighty Sweden, handing victory to the Czechoslovak team. A year later Czechoslovakia took silver at the St. Moritz Olympics, and in 1949 they repeated their gold medal victory at the World Championship in Stockholm.
It seemed that Czechoslovakia had control over the post-war world of hockey but political events hurt the team and many of its players badly. Contrived politically-biased court cases in the fifties meant the end of a national career or even prison for many of the World Champions. It then took several seasons for Czechoslovak players to work their way back to the winners’ podium. It took fifteen years to be able to beat their opponents again on a more-or-less regular basis. But by the mid-sixties there were once again no doubts that Czechoslovak hockey was of genuine quality. In the seventies, a group of players centred around Vladimír Martinec, Ivan Hlinka, and the Holík brothers, won three World Championship gold medals (1972 in Prague, 1976 in Katowice, and 1977 in Vienna).
The Communist physical education system turned out one star after another, and the Czechoslovaks and Soviets took up the dominant positions on the international scene. The first players from the CSSR began to play overseas where they either left with the grace of the government (Jaroslav Jiřík – St. Louis Blues, 1969-1970), or as defectors (the Šťastný brothers, Václav Nedomanský, and others). Czechoslovak hockey players became used to success. They evoked respect from their foes and in 1985 they pleased the fans in Prague with another World Championship title. In the final series of games they beat the Soviet Union 2-1, the USA 11-2, and in the last game, Canada by a score of 5-3. In that final game, Jiří Šejba, played the game of his life scoring a hat-trick.
Another Golden Era for Czech hockey began in the mid-nineties. In 1996 the national team under the guidance of Luděk Bukač took gold at the Vienna World Championship, while in 1998, a fine team built around Dominik Hašek and Jaromír Jágr, and coached by Ivan Hlinka and Slavomír Lener, won a historic first Czech gold medal in hockey at the Winter Olympic Games. At the turn of the millennium, the Czech team captured World Championship gold three times in a row for the first time in the history of Czech hockey – in Lillehammer (1999), St. Petersburg (2000), and Hannover (2001). In 2000 and 2001, even the Czech Junior team won the U20 World Championship twice in a row (the first Czech golds in this tournament in history). Dominik Hašek and Jaromír Jágr won many prestigious individual NHL trophies between them – and the Czechs were simply winning anything that it was possible to win.
The season 2001-2002 however was not so successful for Czech hockey. The team coached by Josef Augusta ended out of the medals in both top events (at the Olympics in Salt Lake City and at the World Championship in Sweden). In the quarter-finals, Russia dealt the deadly blow in both cases. Nor did the Czechs take home a medal in the tournament in Helsinki in 2003, even though they managed to make it to the semi-finals – Canada beat them there and Slovakia beat them in the bronze medal game.
www.hokej.cz (Czech Ice Hockey Association)
The results and the calendar of 2003/04 ZDE
The games between Czech Republic and Canada in 2003/04 season HERE
The games between Czech Republic and Finland in 2003/04 season HERE
The games between Czech Republic and Russia in 2003/04 season HERE
The games between Czech Republic and Sweden in 2003/04 season HERE
Gold: 10 times – (as Czechoslovakia) 1947, 1949, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1985, (as Czech Republic) 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001.
Silver: 12 times – (as Czechoslovakia) 1948, 1961, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1971, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1982, 1983.
Bronze: 19 times – (as Czechoslovakia) 1920, 1933, 1938, 1955, 1957, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1981, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, (as Czech Republic) 1993, 1997, 1998.
Gold: once – (as Czech Republic) 1998 (Nagano).
Silver: 4 times – (as Czechoslovakia) 1948 (St. Moritz), 1968 (Grenoble), 1976 (Innsbruck), 1984 (Sarajevo).
Bronze: 4 times – (as Czechoslovakia) 1920 (Antwerp), 1964 (Innsbruck), 1972 (Sapporo), 1992 (Albertville).
Top stars: Dominik Hašek, Jaromír Jágr, Ivan Hlinka, Jaroslav Jiřík, Vladimír Martinec, Jiří Holík, Jaroslav Holík, Jiří Holeček, Karel Gut, Vladimír Zábrodský, Stanislav Konopásek
2001 World Champions – Hannover, Köln, Nürnberg - goalies: Milan Hnilička, Dušan Salfický, Vladimír Hudáček.
Defense: Karel Pilař, Radek Martínek, Jaroslav Špaček, Pavel Kubina, Filip Kuba, František Kaberle, Martin Richter.
Forwards: Robert Reichel, Radek Dvořák, Petr Čajánek, Viktor Ujčík, Tomáš Vlasák, Martin Procházka, Pavel Patera, David Moravec, Martin Ručinský, Jiří Dopita, David Výborný, Jaroslav Hlinka, Jan Tomajko.
Coaches: Josef Augusta, Vladimír Martinec.