Monday, July 20, 2009
July be the Numbers comes to #20 today with a jersey from behind the Iron Curtain.
Czechoslovakia was founded at the conclusion of World War I and was divided up during World War II essentially between Germany and Hungary. The country was re-established at the conclusion of World War II and in February of 1948, power was seized by the Communists. During a brief period of liberalization in 1968, five countries, led by the Soviet Union, invaded Czechoslovakia to restore and maintain the Communist system and ideals. It is because of this invasion in 1968, also the year in which his grandfather died in prison, that Jaromir Jagr wears #68.
Czechoslovakia first played their first game in international hockey in 1920 at the Winter Olympics in Antwerp, Belguim, a 15-0 loss to Canada. Things would come around for the program soon enough, and they would record their largest margin of victory in 1939 in a 24-0 defeat of Yugoslavia, later matched several times in a 24-0 win over Belguim in 1947, a 27-3 drubbing of East Germany in 1951 and a 25-1 win over Japan in 1957.
They would win the Olympic silver medal four times, in 1948, with gold going to Canada, and then again in 1968, 1976 and 1984, each time as runner up to the powerful Soviet Union. When they weren't winning silver, they were generally in contention, with bronze medals in 1920, 1964, 1972 and 1992.
Czechoslovakia would also participate in five Canada Cups, with their best showing being second in the inaugural 1976 tournament.
They also had a long and successful history of competing at the World Championships, dating back to 1930, with six gold medals to their credit, which they won in 1947, 1949, 1972, 1976, 1977 and 1985 with 10 silver and 14 bronze to go along with their championships.
The jersey I am featuring today is a game worn 1985, or perhaps 1986, Adidas Czechoslovakian National Team jersey I obtained from a couple of team trainers following an exhibition game on December 27th, 1992 in Minneapolis versus the University of Minnesota, just five days before the country ceased to exist and was permanently divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia on January 1st, 1993.
This jersey is unique in that it has a satiny mesh fabric for the body and the numbers are a fuzzy, flocked material. The waist stripe is an elongated Czechoslovakian flag, with each color being a separate piece of fabric sewn together. It might be a bit difficult to see the blue triangle at the bottom left of each photo due to the arm covering it.
The main crest with the heraldic lion under the red star of communism is screen printed onto a piece of twill, which was then sewn to the jersey.
I am unsure of when this jersey may have been worn, as the Adidas jerseys I have seen from the World Championships have had sponsorship patches during this era, so perhaps this might have been a jersey used in the World Junior Tournament at the time.
Here are the Czechoslovaks facing Canada in the 1987 Canada Cup wearing an Adidas jersey quite similar to my jersey, only with slightly a bolder style on the front of the jersey that looks to be one generation new than mine.
Dasherboard: Recently I commented on the current NHL divisional alignment and how both Dallas and Minnesota are grouped with teams that aren't even located in their own time zones. Now, thanks to this article and spreadsheet, with all the teams travel mileage totals for last season and next, you now have a visual comparison of how much better the teams in the East have it when compared to the teams in the West.
Right off the bat you can see that the green shaded teams, with the least travel miles next season are eastern clubs New Jersey, Philadelphia and Buffalo while the teams with the most miles, shaded in red, are western teams Phoenix, Dallas and Calgary. The Sabres scheduled mileage next season of 25,911 is less than half of the Flames 55,331.
Calgary does surprise me somewhat in that they do have one division rival in Edmonton located just 172 miles away that they visit three times, which you think would cut down on their mileage somewhat when compared to a team like Denver whose closest opponent is Dallas, 660 miles away. Another glaring thing to note is Calgary's increase in from last year of 2390 more miles even though they were already the #2 ranked team last season.
Remarkably, San Jose's mileage is down nearly 10,000 miles from last year, a 17% decrease and no European travel to skew the results. How is that even possible? Are they only playing a 68 game schedule this season?
Other teams with large increases are Boston (+4104), Montreal (+5901), Ottawa (+5695) and Washington (+5240). One could guess that these teams did not visit California or Vancouver often, if at all, last season and will be doing so this year.
Chicago, Florida, St. Louis and Detroit all show marked increases, but those are due to starting the season in Europe, a one time trip that will be over and done with right at the beginning of the season.
Figuring the total miles each team in each conference has to travel, (using the numbers for each team for a year without a European trip) the total miles for the Western Conference teams is 681,405 for an average of 45,427 for each club, while the Eastern Conference teams will total 526,946 miles for an average of 35,129 each, a difference of 10,298. That works out to an equivalent of four extra flights between San Jose and New York for each team in the West.
I'd be curious to know how these numbers would be affected if the NHL adopted an NBA-type of schedule where each team visited every other team each season like I would prefer.
I would also like to know how the mileage might be affected if they were to realign the NHL in a truer West to East alignment with Vancouver in a division with Edmonton, Calgary, San Jose Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix while Dallas would be grouped with Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis, Chicago, Nashville, Detroit and Columbus using the current unbalanced schedule.