The plane crash that killed all the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in 2011 was one of the saddest stories in sports history. The lives lost that day ranged from veteran players who never left Russia to former NHL players who returned to Europe to keep their career going.
One of those players was Pavol Demitra and a host of former NHL players are touring his home country of Slovakia this summer hosting three charity hockey games to raise money for youth hockey in the country as NHL.com shared.
A team of Slovak stars will face a team of St. Louis Blues stars in the games. Former NHL players Peter Stastny, Anton Stastny, Peter Bondra, Miroslav Satan, and John Wensink joined up with Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for the effort all to help remember their friend and countryman.
“I am glad that we could pay tribute to [Pavol] this way,” Chara said. “The other good thing was the game was a sellout. It shows people here love hockey. Playing with all these stars from both teams was a great honor for me.”
The two sides have played one game already in Poprad. Game 2 will be on Friday in Trencin followed by Game 3 in the Slovak capital, Bratislava, on Saturday.
When you’re the team that’s got all the hype and are all the rage for new fans in the nation’s capital, it helps to have a great look to make sure everyone wants to buy your stuff. The Capitals more than pulled that off in Washington with just a little bit of help from Alex Ovechkin. It also helps that owner Ted Leonsis was eager to embrace the team’s history as well.
Best: While the Caps have a history unto themselves of different looks, their current take on their original logo with a modernized RBK Edge sweater is their best look. The home reds and road whites look clean, smooth, and excellent and their home sweaters are the ones that stand out the best. After all, Alex Ovechkin helped put people back in the seats in Washington, but he also helped them “rock the red” as well and made the Caps sweater the one new fans had to have.
Worst: There was a period in D.C. where both of their hockey and basketball teams changed up their look and decided to be modern and hip for the time. Both teams went away from the red, white, and blue color scheme to one that centered on a teal-blue-ish color with black and gold mixed in for good measure. In the Caps’ case, their road teal-blue sweater with the “screaming eagle” logo seemed like the biggest slap in the face, especially when you consider what they Caps had been wearing before that that looked so good comparatively. Wearing these sweaters around Caps games these days will get you looked at as if you’re a NARC.
Old-timey favorite: The Caps’ original sweater scheme was really an enjoyable look. It was bright (red and white dominating the look), it did its best to make the Capitals’ logo stand out, and it had stars. There were lots of red, white, and blue stars everywhere as they were on the chest of the sweater and down the sleeves. While it had a slight touch of 1970s horror to them, the look was a unique one for the team and one that helped you grow attached to guys like Peter Bondra, Mike Gartner and Rod Langway.
Assessment: I’ve already heaped a ton of praise on the Caps’ current look and it’s for good reason. Taking an old look and improving on it is something that’s apparently tough for other teams to pull off. In the Caps’ case, they did it perfect. The new logo is sleek and eliminating stars from the sweater was the right move. When it comes to the Reebok-style sweaters, the Caps were the one team that got it right with how to make it look good. While there’s been talk that the Caps will someday, eventually, add a third sweater using their fantastic “weagle” secondary logo, let’s hope they don’t botch it by trying to use a blue sweater and put a torpedo in their ever-present “Rock The Red” campaign.
After all these years, Mario Lemieux came up big for the Pittsburgh Penguins while pre-Ovechkin era star Peter Bondra shined for the Washington Capitals in this morning’s alumni game featuring greats from both franchises. The game ended in a 5-5 tie thanks in large part to their exciting efforts.
Lemieux dazzled with his mere presence, but also produced results, offering up two assists in the game. It almost makes too much sense that one of his assists went to Rob Brown, a player who was a star alongside Super Mario many years ago and quite normal without him. If any image conjures up memories revealing just how powerful some of those Penguins’ offensive teams were, it was a power play that included Lemieux, Ron Francis and Paul Coffey.
Yet for all that marquee talent playing on Pittsburgh’s side, the lesser known Capitals alumni held their own in a contest with an All-Star Game’s lack of defensive interest. Perhaps it’s fitting, too, that Bondra scored what was ultimately the game-tying goal with a heck of a shot. Younger (and/or “newer”?) D.C. fans might not realize that the franchise featured a Russian star before Ovi, but Bondra was an outstanding winger worthy of at least some Hockey Hall of Fame consideration.
The game didn’t boast the kind of energy, physicality and vitriol one can expect from tomorrow afternoon’s feature attraction, but it was still a splendid celebration of outdoor hockey. Check out a highlight package from the game in the video below.
Last week we heard about how Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier and Bill Guerin would be taking the ice on New Year’s Eve at Heinz Field for the 2011 Winter Classic Alumni Game. With that array of talent headlining things for Pittsburgh, we were immediately curious about who the Capitals would dust off to take on this hall of fame group.
Ultimately we knew already that legendary Caps goal scorer Peter Bondra was already set to play but who else could the Caps break out? Today, On Frozen Blog digs up the details and the lines the Caps will throw out there on December 31st and we’re left still excited but a bit disappointed.
Peter Bondra Michal Pivonka Alan Hangsleben
Paul Mulvey Dennis Maruk Mark Lofthouse
Errol Rausse Alan May Nick Kypreos
Blair Stewart Greg Adams Pete LeBoutillier
Pat Ribble Ken Sabourin
Robert Picard Sylvain Cote
Yvon Labre Gord Lane
All right so sorting through that we’re left to see more names that aren’t there than that will be playing. OFB makes mention that Donald Brashear and Kelly Miller will also play and those are notable Caps so that’s good. Seeing Michal Pivonka and Greg Adams makes us feel nostalgic for the 80 and early 90s all over again but there’s some huge names missing here.
On the forward unit we don’t see anyone like Mike Ridley, Steve Konowalchuk, or former captain Dale Hunter. On defense you could come up with an All-Star alumni unit of guys that are missing. Calle Johanssen, Scott Stevens, Phil Housley, and Jeff Brown all immediately come to mind as well as legendary king of the slap shot Al Iafrate. While it’s fun to see Don Beaupre’s name again, we’d be wrong to say we’re disappointed that Olaf Kolzig won’t be getting a shot.
We understand that a lot of these guys may have other job commitments (Dale Hunter owns a team in the CHL for instance and Calle Johanssen works on Swedish TV) but it’s a bit of a bummer to be without them nonetheless. Does this make us any less excited to see the game though? Hell no.