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Friday, 2 August 2013

A Step Back In Time & New Signings As Zagreb Bears Prepare For KHL Debut






I'm quickly throwing this in not because I particularly watch sports, or am a sporto, or jocko, or a jock sniffer or sports fashion wearer or any of those things. (I find most sporting events around here these days to be boring and pointless actually, and usually just keep it on once in a while for some background noise. Does all the sports analyzing, sub-analyzing, rumour evaluating, statistical analytics and scenario analyzing like your life depended on it bore the fuck out of anyone else?)  Anyway, I was going to briefly touch upon a few of the recent big club signings of Croatian soccer players in various European leagues, but I figure I'll leave that to the guys at croatiansoccerjersey.com, that's their specialty.  It's only the beginning of August, but the hockey season is just around the corner.  This season the Zagreb Bears (Zagreb Medveščak) will be playing their inaugural season in the KHL, the best Hockey league in Europe and 2nd best league in the world.  Hockey is as popular as ever in Zagreb, practically selling out every game at Dom Sportova and Arena Zagreb.  The hottest ticket in town actually, with larger annual attendance figures by a wide margin over even Zagreb Dinamo,believe it or not, the city's premier soccer team. (Which isn't really surprising these days, as smaller city clubs like Hajduk Split has a 3 times annual attendance numbers and even HNK Rijeka last year had higher annual attendance numbers, even some other Croatian league clubs are just barely behind Dinamo in annual attendance numbers.  I rest my case.

(You may be in shock now, perhaps thinking..."What, a Croatian not glorifying a Croatian soccer team?".  Yes that's right, not all Croatians have the same experiences and same views and tastes on everything. We're not programmed robots all liking the same food choices, all liking the same exact same shows, movies, choice of toppings, same views on fashion, hairstyles, books, music or the latest leaked celebrity porn video. Nope, why I even met some Croatians who don't even like beer or coffee, some prefer raspberry or strawberry jam. I even even met some freaks who actually like to eat those candied corn things at the bottom of the Hallowe'en bag)

People want real sports entertainment and athletes for their Croatian Kuna and not some ridiculous 'Team Ghetto-Favela' (with diamond earrings. lol)...in Zagreb Dinamo soccer kit.  Replacing Croatian players who are off to big European clubs with faddish mediocre poser thumb-sucking stooges who have no business wearing a  Dinamo or even quite possibly any soccer jersey, is not something fans want to go and pay to see.  Ghetto-Favela Purgeri?.. pfff as if.  Give them a souvenir tee or maybe a baseball jersey to wear instead.  You might as well go rent a movie or go to the local pub, make a plate of fresh cevapi.  Dinamo may be squeezing by HNL titles lately, but at the cost of a dwindling fan base to the point at times where you have to even give out free tickets to watch them?  Fan's that dont even recognize or know lots of the players?  Players who if they weren't kicking a soccer ball around would probably be mugging old ladies or pimping their granny in the alleyway, but probably most likely just cleaning toilets or stealing watches.  Some people it seems don't understand the difference between Zagreb Dinamo, and imposters wearing Dinamo jerseys's. There's a world of difference. (This can be extended to some other teams and/or sports)

I swear, some of the Dinamo legends that aren't here anymore must be turning in their grave seeing the product on the field wearing Dinamo Zagreb jerseys, the watered down 21st century new age version, the lackey's making an imitation boot leg fake version of Dinamo instead of fake designer tee's.  Instead of using large transfer fees to fund local home-grown talent, Mamic is pocketing his nice big slice and substituting some of these guys to become the imposter "Purgeri"?..to become "Zagrepčani"?  How come it wasn't Stipe Perica signed yesterday by Dinamo? He's good enough for Chelsea FC. but not a peep of interest from Dinamo?  (I still wear my Dinamo jersey once in a while though, why?..well, I'm Croatian firstly, secondly I was a fan before every player on the team was sucking their mothers tit...thirdly, I was at Maksimir in 1990 and watched a more real version of Dinamo beat Belgrade Partizan live at this match...(Hmmm? Boban....  Imposter wannabee poser coconut-head monkey cum?...pfff. lol)...and fourthly because I could kick Sammir's ass easily, probably score more goals in less games and look better while doing it, even probably wearing cooler sunglasses before and after the matches and possibly even while scoring my goals)  That's why most real Zagreb sports enthusiasts just show up for the National Team football matches that take place in Zagreb, which is basically all I pay attention to as well.  (Pl-avi..pl-a-a-vi, Sammir je pra-a-vi, pra-avi...prlja-a-a-vi...lol, repeat chorus)  Look at the conundrum even HNK Rijeka almost got into lately Here, I'm surprised the Dinamo management didn't jump on that sweet player deal because trying to pass off fake knock-off sports teams and fake knock-off designer fashion t-shirts or sunglasses is almost the same thing.  (If the Zdravko Mamic by chance comes across this piece, I noticed the other day that one of the downtnown Brazilian teen crackwhore pimps from a few years ago is still around, I've seen him and his pals kick the soccer ball in the alleyway once in a while and he shows great potential. You better look into it and sign him up, I've already got a nickname for him..Zuzu. You know, sort of like Lulu)  No wonder more sports fans are showing up for Zagreb Bears hockey games, the last thing Croatian sports needs is imported bubble gum chewing and finger sucking wannabee poser rap stars posing as wannabee illiterate sports niggers trying to pass themselves off as Croatian athletes.  (Pla-a-a-vii, pl-a-a-a-vi, sammir je pr-a-a-avi, pr-a-vi pr-lja-a-a-a-vi) Well, this turned into a post about various topics besides the original hockey article and the Zagreb Bears, I guess the main point after all you've read so far, it is that if there is one thing I can assure the reader about what we all do agree on, it's that every Croatian is not a fan of the Serbian Trumpet Festival and that we don't eat camel nutsacks.

Anyway, enough about how not to manage a city's soccer team. nutsacks, trumpets and stooges.  I've also mentioned on some previous 'Zagreb Bears' posts, that hockey in Croatia is really nothing new. It's no jumping on any kind of hockey bandwagon at all, in case one thinks otherwise, it's been around for over the last 100 years.  See history of ice hockey in Croatia.  Some previous Zagreb Bears post links below for much more information and media.....








Source: www.medvescak.com


NHL-er Andrew Murray strengthens the Bears' attack

Murray is played 221 games in the NHL, and 250 games including playoffs in the AHL.

Canadian Andrew Murray is the new reinforcement to Medveščak's attack. Murray is a forward who has several years of experience in the NHL and the AHL. He's played 221 games in the NHL (40 points), and 250 games including playoffs in the AHL (101 points).

"Andrew Murray is a quality 2 way player. He has been a full time NHL player 5 of the last 6 years. He brings very high character to the locker room and the possibility of playing in all situations.  He is a true center that will chip in offensively and be a key center to play against other teams' top lines", said the director of athletics, Aaron Fox.

Andrew Murray was born in 1981 in Selkirk (Manitoba, Canada), and plays center and left wing. After his junior days in the MJHL with the Selkirk Steelers, he enrolled at Bemidji State University in 2001 and played for their NCAA team, while in the same year he was the 242nd NHL draft pick for the Columbus Blue Jackets. Throughout the four seasons between 2001/02 - 2004/05, he played 128 games for Bemidji and scored 46 goals and made 69 assists (115 points), and in the last season he was the team captain.

Murray played his first professional season in 2005/06 for the AHL's Syracuse Crunch (then affiliates of the Blue Jackets) realizing 83 games including playoffs, with 13 goals and 17 assists. He played in the Crunch jersey for the next two seasons, though in 2007/08 he only played 34 games because an opportunity opened up for him to play in the NHL for Columbus.

He debuted with the Blue Jackets on 27 December 2007, and scored his first NHL goal on 2 January 2008 in a game against the Anaheim Ducks. In his premiere season with Columbus he played 39 games and earned 10 points (6 goals, 4 assists), and the team extended his contract for another three seasons.

Throughout those three seasons Murray played 142 games with Columbus and scored 26 points (17 goals, 9 assists). In the 2011/12 season, he signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks and played 39 games with them (4 points), and also played 10 games with their AHL affiliates the Worcester Sharks. This past season, aside from playing one game for the St. Louis Blues, he wore the AHL's Peoria Rivermen's jersey for 51 games in which he scored 14 goals and made 17 assists (31 points).

This will be Murray's premiere season with Medveščak and the KHL. He will be joining the team any day now at the gathering and preparations in Zagreb.






The presentation at the Hotel Esplanade in Zagreb of the team that will be taking to the ice for the 2013/14 KHL season. Photogallery: www.jutarnji.hr. Article: www.medvescak.com




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Take a walk with Sports.ru through Medveščak's past!







The 'Russian Tower' that Medveščak's management has been building for the past two years finally reached its top on 29 April 2013.




For the first time in history, KHL Medveščak Zagreb will play the 2013/2014 season in the world's strongest hockey league outside of North America; the KHL. The 'Russian tower' that Medveščak's management has been building for the past two years finally reached its top on 29 April when the Bears officially became the KHL's 28th members. After receiving word from the KHL that 'you are accepted', Medveščak began putting together a crossword puzzle that will soon be completed as the players are about to gather in Zagreb and embark on a new era for Medveščak - the Russian era.

Medveščak's accession into the prestigious KHL wasn't only written about in Croatian media, but also in Russian outlets, and the Russian site Sports.ru recently included in its Tribina (Stands) blog an interesting article about Croatia's most decorated hockey team by author SandroNSK. The original article can be found in Russian here at Sports.ru , but for those whose Russian isn't polished can find some of the most interesting excerpts below.

So let's begin, and take a walk with Sports.ru through Medveščak's past!





 MEDVEŠČAK - THE FIRST NORTH AMERICAN TEAM IN THE KHL



Medveščak - Russian traces in history




If you think that our first North American club in the KHL is something like a meteorite from planet Hockey that came out of nowhere and landed in Zagreb yesterday, then you are wrong. The Croatian Bears came into existence in 1961, which is the same year that the protagonist of the KHL trophy achieved his immortal flight. Is that not symbolic? Along the way, it is no less symbolic that in the teams name already contained the acronym KHL (Klub hokeja na ledu - Ice Hockey Team). The Croatian linguistics of it gives it an interesting spin.

The low popularity of Medveščak in our country can be explained by the fact that as far as hockey is concerned, Russia and Croatia have been, and still are, in different weight categories. This difference isn't even of David and Goliath proportions, but more like that of an elephant and an ant. Also, in Russian hockey circles, unlike in the soccer world, there was never a custom (and for a long time in history also no possibility) to follow the national championships of other hockey nations, with the exception of perhaps the NHL.

However, despite all of that, there was a moment in Medveščak's history where our path and Croatia's hockey path shortly converged - in the form of an 'experience exchange' partnership. In the USSR's time of providing aid to developing countries, it was common for: more coaches to go abroad and conquer 'hockey expanses' in Finland, Romania, Germany, and even Japan. In the late 80's was former Yugoslavia's turn - Croatia. The Bears, who had not yet been introduced to the taste of victory, were in dire need of stronger players and better coaches. The Federation respectively addressed the friend nation's request, even though it didn't belong to the 'socialist club', and one of the experts from the coaching corpus was sent to Zagreb: Anatoliy Kostryukov, who had worked with different national teams (won gold at the World Junior Championships), and with various clubs. Specifically, it was him who brought Celyabinsk's Traktor to their first medals in the USSR Championships in the club's history.


Anatoliy Kostryukov:

''The first year I insisted on discipline, for which I was given the honourary name Stalin. But in the end everyone got used to the demands, even though individual problems remained, and after a year the team spoke Russian just like the Belarusians or the Ukrainians."

It was already in their first year of working with the Soviet specialists that Medveščak-Gortan won its first national championship! The legendary Vyacheslav Anisin was the shining star on Yugoslavia's ice - 33 goals and 22 assists in 31 games.


Vyacheslav Anisin:

''The stadium was filled to capacity at every game, and in playoffs time something incredible would happen. When we won the Yugoslavian Championship for the first time in 30 years, it was impossible to describe the emotions of the fans."

Of course, the award for the best coach went to Anatoliy Kostryukov. The Yugoslavian Hockey Association quickly offered the expert to coach the national team as well.


Anatoliy Kostryukov:

''In the third season I took on the national team which I brought to victory at the European Championship in France right away."

After their title in 1989, Medveščak won another two tournaments in 1990 and 1991. Those were the last two Yugoslavian Championships - the Balkans then turned course and quickly found themselves in bloodshed... Nevertheless, the Croatian team wrote its name in hockey history.


Sergei Stolbun (legend of Kazan hockey, two-time best shooter in the Yugoslavian Championship):

"For almost 11 months of the year we lived shoulder to shoulder like in a pioneer camp. For that reason everyone was excited when it was time for breaks or when we would travel home for the holidays. It was specifically for that reason that I wanted to go out of the country. So I turned to the management of SK Urich and told them to find me some sort of option. The answer from Moscow came a year later, and I found out when I was supposed to leave after I had arrived to the capital to handle documentation. In the end I was sent to Yugoslavia, to Zagreb.

In the first year I became the best shooter (in two years in Croatia's Stolbun he scores 90 goals) and they asked me in bewilderment: 'why didn't you go play in the NHL?'. I answered: 'what on earth do you mean the NHL? They barely let us go to Yugoslavia!' Along the way, we made history as the last champions of Yugoslavia - the country broke apart shortly after.''


Sergei Paramonov (long-time defenceman and later coach for Traktor):

''Working abroad convinced me that every man must respect himself. Time spent in another country was a big experience for me.

Honestly, it was only when I arrived in Zagreb that I learned what it meant to play hockey. When you have experts playing in front of you who are passing you the puck and when everything depends on you."

(Unfortunately, Sergei Paromonov did not live to see his first international team make it into the KHL - he passed away in an untimely death in October 2012)

In 1990-1991 proved to be the most successful years in the history of 'Soviet Medveščak'. The club got a hat trick at the Yugoslavian Championship, and made a sensational splash at the European Cup, making their way into the top 8 strongest teams, getting ahead of the previous group's Italian Bolzano and Austrian Feldkirch. In the next round the Croats beat French Rouen, but let Germany's Dusseldorf and Finnish TPS get ahead of them (with only a two-goal difference). However, 7th place in the final classification proved to be one of the best results for a Yugoslavian team in history!


Steve Gatzos recalls:

''We developed a great team in Zagreb, we all got along, even the Russians with the Canadians. That was the first time I encountered Russians, and we but along great, even though I didn't speak any Russian and they didn't speak any English."

It was politics that got in the way of further success for Medveščak. The war broke out in Yugoslavia, and the USSR was nearing its end as well...


Sergei Stolbun recalls:

''All of the plans were ruined by the war, when it started, people didn't care about hockey anymore."

After the war, Medveščak, who didn't cease to exist despite the circumstances, spent some time simmering in Croatian hockey. The next stage was entering the Slovenian league, and following that the Austrian (at that time the fortified club began to delight fans with performances in the country's ancient amphitheatre and managed to become one of the most attended clubs in Europe), and then finally - to the KHL!

After 25 years the path of Croatian hockey and our own have crossed paths once again. We hope that this stage of working together will be no less fruitful and that our work together will last many years longer. That is very likely, considering that, as indicated by the Russian delegation for foreign affairs, which identified the impact of 'operation Medveščak' on Russian-Croatian relations, as the situation encompasses the overall context of Croatian national politics. In the coming years the team could earn the status of a 'national project', similar to those given to main national teams (the national representation as well as the clubs) in other types of sports.

Excerpts from the article were taken from Sprots.ru from the 'Tribina' (Stands) blog, and the author of the article is SandroNSK.

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