Monday, January 31, 2011

Slavia to celebrate 110th anniversary Tuesday

HC Slavia Praha, circa 1901. Photo:
Founded in 1901, HC Slavia Praha is celebrating its 110th anniversary in 2011, and as part of the celebrations have announced that they will don retro sweaters from the start of the 20th century at Tuesday's home game against HC Plzeň 1929. For their part, Plzeň will wear sweaters from the 1950s.

The festivities will include a pre-game ceremonial face-off performed by Czech hockey legend Augustin Bubník. Bubník was a member of Czechoslovakia's 1948 Olympic silver medal-winning team and their 1949 World Championship team. After spending five years in jail for an alleged plot to defect, he became the first Czech to coach abroad, leading Finland internationally from 1966 to 1969 and the Netherlands in 1980 and 1981.

"One hundred and ten years as a club, it's a wonderful thing, so we decided to take this opportunity to hold this event," said Slavia coach and general manager Vladimír Růžička on the club's website. "Who else would we choose to play other than the oldest club in the league (Plzeň)? I'm very glad that this match-up can take place. We originally wanted to play it on January 6, when it was exactly one hundred and ten years after the first match, but we had to thoroughly discuss with sponsors. Now, additionally, we play an attractive opponent."

Plzeň's retro sweaters and socks. Photo:
"Many of our biggest fans still wear retro jerseys to cheer us on at home and away games," said Plzeň's captain and general manager, Martin Straka. "They know the tradition well. After all, these jerseys are an important piece of our successful history and present. And they are beautiful." 

After the game, the sweaters will be autographed by the players and then auctioned off, with the proceeds going to charity.  

Beyond the festivities, the game is also a big one. With only six games to play, each team is battling for playoff positions. Slavia currently sits in seventh place with 71 points, 2 back of Mountfield České Budějovice and 3 behind Eaton Pardubice. They are aiming at a birth in the top six, which would mean a bye past the first round into the quarter-finals.

Just behind Slavia in the standings is a group of four teams that are battling for the final three playoff spots. They are Energie Karlovy Vary with 66 and a then a three-way tie between Plzeň, Kometa Brno and Benzina Litvínov with 65 each. 

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