Friday, July 22, 2011
July by the Numbers jersey #22 takes us to the capital city of Prague.
Founded before even the creation of Czechoslovakia, Sparta Praha (Sparta Prague) was originally formed back in 1893 as an athletic association and they first started playing bandy in 1903.
The Sparta Prague bandy team in 1907
They next ventured into forming an ice hockey team in 1909, making them as old as the Montreal Canadiens and older than every other team in NHL. Sparta eventually joined the First Czechoslovak League on it's creation in 1930.
The Sparta Prague hockey team in 1934 with some sort of unfortunate mascot
The team would capture their first championship in 1953 and immediately follow that up with a second consecutive title in 1954. Their next successes came outside of Czechoslovakia when they won the Spengler Cup in Switzerland in both 1962 and 1963.
It would take Sparta Prague until 1990 to win their third title, led by Jiri Dolezal team leading 58 points. Three seasons later, in 1993, Sparta would become the final champions of the First Czechoslovak League as Czechoslovakia then divided into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
Following the split, Sparta would become members of the new Czech Extraliga and would be led to their first title in 1999-00 by team leading scorer David Vyborny, whose 63 points were second overall in the league.
Two seasons later a 32-9-8 regular season record foretold of another playoff championship in 2002, led this time by Jaroslav Hlinka.
Their next title would arrive in 2006, which was a unexpected triumph considering their mid-pack regular season placing, sixth out of 14. Jan Marek led the Extraliga in scoring for Sparta with 54 points and Hlinka came through in the playoffs with 10 goals and 16 points in 17 games.
Sparta repeated their playoff success in 2006-07, once again led by Hlinka's league leading 57 points. Petr Ton tied Hlinka with 16 playoff points while leading the club with 11 goals in 16 games.
The club will once more be in the spotlight of the hockey world this fall when the host the New York Rangers on September 29, 2011 as part of the NHL Premier Challenge.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Sparta Prague Petr Hrbek jersey. This jersey was worn during the first season of the Czech Extraliga and features Sparta Prauge's iconic "S" logo on the chest, which is still free and clear of the coming wave of sponsorship that is soon to arrive in European hockey.
Unusually, it also has both the player name and the team name above the numbers on the back, with the team name radially arched, crowding the player name just that much more.
Today's video section features a quite dramatic promo video for Sparta Prague.