Tuesday, April 29, 2014

1987-88 Sparta Prague Tomáš Jelínek Jersey

Born in Prague, Czechoslovakia on this date in 1962, Tomáš Jelínek first played in the Czech First Ice Hockey League with 7 games during the 1979-80 season. The right wing also made his international debut for Czechoslovakia at the 1980 European Junior Championships.

The following season he moved to Dukla Trencin playing 34 games, scoring 5 goals and 11 points as well as playing in the World Junior Championships where he scored 3 goals in 5 games. He was back with Trencin for 1981-82, this time scoring 9 goals in 36 games as well as playing in his second World Juniors where he earned a silver medal.

He rejoined Sparta Prague in 1982-83 where he had his first 20 goal season with exactly 20 as well as 25 assists for 45 points in 40 games. Jelínek would play another six seasons for Sparta through the 1988-89 season, the season he also made his debut at the World Championships, scoring once in 5 games as the Czechs came home with the bronze.

For 1989-90, Jelínek became a member of České Budějovice where he was given a larger offensive role than he had with Prague over the last six years, as he immediately set a new career high with 23 goals on his way to a 43 point season. Following the season he participated in his  second consecutive World Championships for Czechoslovakia, earning another bronze.

Jelínek would then set a career best with 24 goals in 1990-91 with Budějovice.

Prior to the start of the 1991-92 season, Jelínek was a member of the Czech team at the 1991 Canada Cup tournament, where he scored 5 points in 5 games.

Jelínek was not only with a new team in 1991-92, but for the first time was playing outside Czechoslovakia when he joined HPK Hämeenlinna of Finland's SM-Liiga where he matched his previous season with an identical 24 goals and 23 assists for 47 points, only in ten less games than the previous season.

It was also a busy season for Jelínek on the international scene, as he first made his Olympic debut in style at the 1992 Games in Albertville, France as the team Captain, scoring 3 goals and 5 points in 8 games as the Czechs finished with the bronze medal. Later that spring, Jelínek, again as the Czech captain, won his third World Championships bronze out of three tries, as he contributed 9 points in 8 games from 4 goals and 5 assists in the final World Championships for Czechoslovakia, as the country would divide into the Czech Republic and Slovakia at the end of the year.

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Team captain Jelínek in the final  jersey style for Czechoslovakia

His fine play over the last two seasons, as well as the exposure gained at the Canada Cup and Olympics led to Jelínek being drafted by the expansion Ottawa Senators of the NHL and coming to North America for the Senators inaugural season. Jelínek played 49 games with Ottawa, scoring 7 goals and 13 points in his only NHL season.

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Jelínek in the original Senators jersey style

In 1992-93, he played two games with the Prince Edward Island Senators of the AHL before a return to Europe saw him play 6 games with his original club Sparta Praha and then 8 with the Zürich SC Lions in Switzerland.

He was back to full time duty in the Czech Extraliga in 1994-95, playing a full season with Slavia Praha, scoring 28 points in 44 games.

Jelínek would spend the next three seasons with HC Plzen, highlighted by first a 44 point season in 1995-96 and then setting a career best with a 48 point season, as well as his fifth and final 20 goal season with 22.

After playing 14 games with Plzen to begin the 1997-98 season, Jelínek would return to Sparta Praha for remainder of the season, scoring 23 points in 37 games as well as establishing another career high, this one for penalty minutes with 144, easily topping his previous high of 102 back in 1991.

After one final game with Sparta at the start of 1998-99, Jelínek first played 7 games with Slezan Opava, then 19 games with HC Vitkovice before then finally joining his fourth team of the season when he took to the ice for EV Weiden of the German second division, ending his career with 10 goals and 26 points in 14 games.

Today's featured jersey is a 1987-88 Sparta Prague Tomáš Jelínek jersey as worn on his return to the Czech Republic after two seasons playing in Finland and Canada. 

Sparta Prague was an athletic association founded in 1893, first playing bandy in 1903. Their original hockey team was formed in 1909, making them as old as the Montreal Canadiens and older than every other team in the NHL.

They won two Czech titles in 1953 and 1954 as well as back to back Spengler Cups in 1962 and 1963. They later would win the Czech Extraliga title in 2000 and again in 2002 before a unexpected playoff run in 2006 led to a third title in recent times, quickly followed by a fourth in 2007.

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photo courtesy of Classic Auctions

Today's video is a look at Sparta Prague in modern times.

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