Monday, July 13, 2009
July by the Numbers entry #13 takes us across the Atlantic to Ukraine.
Vasily (or Vasili or Vasyl) Bobrovnikov was born in Ukraine on November 8th, 1971 in Kiev and was a regular member of the Ukranian National Team for over a decade. He retired in 2008.
He first appeared for Ukraine five times in the World Championships C Pool before Ukraine was able to win and move up to the B Pool, which they won on their first try to reach the top level. They remained at the top level from 1999 until being relegated in 2007, Bobrovnikov's last appearance for the National Team. Ukraine have competed in the B Pool for the past two years and are hoping to reclaim their position among the World's elite.
Ukraine made their Olympic debut in Salt Lake City in 2002. One of the difficulties for Ukraine in it's first Olympics was that several Ukranian-born players, such as Alexei Zhitnik and Oleg Tverdovsky, had already played for Russia in international competitions when Ukraine was a part of the Soviet Union, making them ineligible to appear for another county.
Bobrovnikov played for Sokol Kiev (or Sokil Kyiv) 18 seasons in a variety of leagues, as the organization of hockey evolved throughout the breakup of the Soviet Union. He started playing for Sokol Kiev in the Soviet Hockey League and it's various Russian successor leagues, then the Eastern European Hockey League beginning in 1997, a league made up of teams from Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine. Sokol Kiev then found themselves in the Belarus Extraliga in 2004, after the dissolution of the EEHL, and then the Vysshaya Liga, the second highest level of Russian hockey, beginning in 2007 for two seasons.
He would finish his career with 841 league games played, 206 goals and 281 assists for 487 points.
Due to the higher costs involved in playing in the Russian league, including higher participation fees for non-Russian teams and travel costs they must cover for the visiting teams, Sokol Kiev will return to the Belarus Extraliga and compete closer to home in a now 15-team league against 11 teams from Belarus, three from Latvia plus themselves, as the lone Ukranian representative, in a 56-game season.
Sokol Kiev was founded in 1963 and adopted their current name, which translates to "Kiev Falcons", in 1973. They are the first and only Ukranian team to compete in the Spengler Cup as well as the first Ukranian team to win a professional league championship, by winning the Eastern European Hockey League title in 1998 and 1999.
They are the oldest and most successful Ukranian hockey team, winning 11 out of 16 Ukranian Championships since 1992. I must confess to being unclear of the format to determine the Ukranian Championship concurrently with Sokol Kiev also competing in various other leagues during the same time period. It appears to be a case of a season within a season, not unlike how an English soccer club can compete in the Premier League at home and the Champions League in Europe at the same time. Perhaps someone can confirm or enlighten me as to how this correctly works.
Other notable players who have appeared for Sokol Kiev include Ruslan Fedotenko, Alexander Godynyuk, Dmitri Khristich, Mikhail Tatarinov and Alexi Zhitnik, the highest player taken in the NHL draft in franchise history at #81 overall.
Today's featured jersey is a 1990-91 Sokol Kiev Vasily Bobrovnikov jersey.
While most Soviet/Russian game worn jerseys have that unmistakable "funk", this is by far the smelliest jersey I've ever owned. It's one of those types that you believe would stand up on it's own if you tried and not one to let anywhere near your spouse. Or your other jerseys for that matter - as anything hung immediately next to it will become "funkified" on contact. It's a bit of a shame to have to wash a jersey like this in order to remove the stench, as it feels like you are taking away some of the game used "aura", but a necessary step that must be taken if one is to live with such a garment and a true testament to the marvels of modern detergents to not only take on, but defeat the best the old Soviet Union had to offer.
The white sections of this jersey are a type of material much like ultrafil, while the blue parts are lighter weight mesh. All the graphics are screened on, including the incredible example of the name on the back in Cyrillic. It doesn't get any better than this one for a classic Cyrillic name on the back.