Here we are, yet again, writing about leagues that are serving as temporary homes to hundreds of NHL lockout players. I thought that perhaps the NHL and NHLPA had a top secret meeting over cookies and milk while I was asleep, but alas, it appears we still have no NHL hockey. In light of that depressing fact, let’s continue our tour across the pond and take a look at the rest of the leagues unemployed NHLers have flocked to.
Countries with NLB teams: Switzerland (11)
2012 Champion: SC Langenthal
Year Founded: 1943
Season Structure: Similar to NLA, season ends with a best-of-seven relegation tournament.
Current NHLers on lockout contracts with NLB: Patric Hornqvist (Red Ice)
Polish Hockey SuperLeague (Poland) – Polska Liga Hokejowa
Countries with PHSL teams: Poland (8)
2012 Champion: KH Sanok
Year Founded: First medal was awarded back in 1927, however, I believe the league has undergone several name changes and reorganizations since. The current SuperLeague started in 1955.
I was unable to find information on the season structure that was in English, so if the day comes where I decide to get started on the Polish edition of Rosetta Stone, I’ll revisit this topic and blow your mind with my vast knowledge of the Polish vernacular. To make up for this missing piece of info, I’ll give you a fun fact about Polish hockey. There is no 1936 champion in Polish Hockey. Why? Because of climate conditions. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is definitely evidence of global warming (I’m lookin’ at you, Al Gore).
Current NHLers on lockout contracts with PHSL: Wojtek Wolski (KH Sanok)
Countries with Tipsport Extraliga teams: Czech Republic (14)
2012 Champions: HC Pardubice
Year Founded: 1993
Season Structure: League participates in relegation with second-tier Czech league First National Hockey League.
Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Tipsport Extraliga: Milan Jurcina (KLH Chomutov), David Krejci (HC Pardubice), Michal Rozsival (HC Pizen), Tuukka Rask (HC Plzen)
Mestis Finland2 (Finland)
Countries with Mestis teams: Finland (12)
2012 Champion: Vaasan Sport
Year Founded: 2000
Season Structure: Since 2009, the last place SM-liiga team plays the first place Mestis team in a best-of-seven relegation tournament. KalPa is the last team to have been promoted to SM-liiga after the 2004-2005 season.
NHLers on lockout contracts with Mestis teams: Tommy Wingels (KooKoo, yes, that is really the name of the team)
Tipsport Extraliga (Slovakia)
No, that is not a typo, this Slovakian league has the same name as the Czech Republic league. Who would have thought it would be so difficult to come up with a different name! Seriously!
Countries with Tipsport Extraliga Slovakia teams: Slovakia (10)
2012 Champion: HC Slovan Bratislava
Year Founded: 1993 (after the league split off from the Czech version of Tipsport Extraliga)
Regular season games: 57
Interesting fact about the Slovakian Tipsport Extraliga … there is a team called Team Slovakia U20 in the league. “Orange”, as the team is called, is the U20 team for Slovakia and only play in Tipsport Extraliga to prepare for the IIHF World U20 Championships. According to our good friends over at wikipedia, the team only plays games on Fridays and Sundays. I generally don’t like using wikipedia as a source of tried and true information, however, until I get through the 3rd CD of Slovakian Rosetta Stone, I won’t be able to site any information from the actual Slovakian hockey websites (I know this comes as a shocker, but I don’t speak any Eastern European languages). Imagine the USA U20 team playing a couple games a week with the NHL. This by far is the weirdest concept I’ve come across as I’ve researched these leagues.
Current NHLers on lockout contracts with Tipsport Extraliga: Tomas Tatar (SHK 37 Piestany)
Sadly, I believe Mr. Tatar is the final export in the Get to know… series. What have we learned in this informative collection of articles?
- 1. Poland does in fact have its own hockey league! Impressive!
- 2. Switzerland’s NLA team SC Bern is the most attended hockey club in all of Europe.
- 3. This picture is awesome.
Hopefully you learned a little more than a cow wearing a flag hat, but in any case, you should be able to participate in light lockout conversation about players in Europe without scratching your head. When someone asks “I’ll probably have to look this up, but is Danny Briere playing anywhere during the lockout?” Now you can leap out of your seat and exclaim “He’s playing in Germany with the DEL Eisbaren Berlin alongside Flyers teammate Claude Giroux!” Your friends will then hoist you above their heads and praise you for your wealth of hockey knowledge while chanting WE ARE NOT WORTHY.
In closing, my brother and I were wandering around a board game store at the local mall, and we came across a game called “Ticket to Ride India”. Normally I wouldn’t be tripping over myself to get my hands on it, however, there is a sweet picture of something that has truly been the mascot for this series. I’ll let the picture speak for itself…