Saturday, July 2, 2011
July by the Numbers continues with jersey #2, a 1989 Soviet Union jersey worn during the annual Izvestia Trophy tournament, which was originally sponsored by the Izvestia daily newspaper.
The Izvestia Snowman, the traditional tournament mascot
The tournament began in 1967 in Moscow and has traditionally been played in December each year with few exceptions between the top national teams of Europe. In the 1970's and 80's it was referred to as "The Little World Championship" or a winter rehearsal for the World Championships held each spring.
The first tournament held in 1967 carried the heavy-handed title of "Tournament for the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution", which probably hampered merchandise sales to no end!
The pendulum swung back way too far in the other direction for 1968 when the competition was entitled the overly generic "International Tournament". The Izvestia sponsorship arrived on the scene in 1969 and lasted through 1996, giving the tournament both increased exposure and it's identity.
Since the end of the Izvestia sponsorship, the tournament has been through a series of name changes, first being known as the Baltica Brewery Cup from 1997 to 2002, the Moscow International Tournament in 2003, the Rosno Cup in 2004 and 2005 and is currently known as the Channel One Cup since 2006.
The tournament has consisted mainly of national teams from Finland, Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic, the Soviet Union/Russia and Sweden with other countires fielding a teams on occasion.
Over it's history, the Soviet Union/Russia has won the tournament 31 times, Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic seven, Sweden and Finland two each and Canada once.
The Soviet team captain hoists the Snowman trophy
Other countries to have participated include Poland in 1967, East Germany in 1969, the Winnipeg Jets in 1976, and the Quebec Nordiques in 1977, both of the WHA representing Canada, and West Germany on a few occasions prior to reunification. There were later Canadian teams on occasion as well as two teams from the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia in the early days as well.
Currently, the tournament is a part of a larger competition known as the Euro Hockey Tour, which consists of the Channel One Cup in Russia, the Czech Hockey Games, the Karjala Tournament in Finland and the LG Hockey Games in Sweden. Once all four of these competitions are completed, the teams are seeded based on combined points for all four tournaments to determine the overall winner, with additional playoff games having been added from 2004 to 2007 to determine the medal placings.
Most teams currently use the tournament as an opportunity to give younger players a chance to gain international experience in advance of World Championships or Olympics.
Today's featured jersey is a 1989 Soviet Union Izvestia Trophy Alexander Gusev jersey, which has the unusual color combination of red and yellow, opposed to the Soviet National Team's traditional red and white.
It has the unusual crest of a hockey playing snowman, which depicts the "Wooden Snowman" trophy awarded to the winner of the tournament during this era.
With the word on the chest of the snowman reading "veteran", we suspect this jersey may have been part of an old-timers game in conjunction with the main tournament rather than an actual Soviet National Team jersey.
We are also unsure of the exact year, but conclude that the mesh material and heavy screen printing of the yellow colors is consistent with that of a very late 1980's or early to mid 1990's Russian jersey, but the use of "CCCP" on the crest suggests it's prior to the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. It could possibly be from later with the "CCCP" indicating Gusev was a veteran of the Soviet era, but we currently have no way of knowing for certain.
Here is action from the 1986 tournament, only the second time Finland had ever defeated the Soviet Union in international competition.