Can you tell more about ice hockey in Russia. Is is as popular as we think. Thanks.
asked by Anonymous
Well, I don't know where to start....I'll start with a history because you will be surprised to learn that this strong love for hockey is rather young )))
Before 1917 the ice hockey was not really known in Russia. Several sport clubs made an attempt to break into a new winter sports competitions and in 1911 Russia entered International ice hockey league created 3 years earlier. However the puck did not manage to become popular and quit soon All-Russian hockey union leaved international Ice Hockey League.
The history of hockey in Soviet Russia began rather after 1917 with an extreme popularity of field hockey (called then “bandy or Russian hockey” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bandy#Russia).
In the beginning of XX century this game was especially popular among women.
The ice hockey was rarely played and only by the students of sports universities who were supposed to study all types of sports. Ice hockey was an outsider among sports favored by Soviet youth until after the WWII when in 1946 Soviet Hockey league was founded.
On April 1st, 1952 the Soviet Hockey league joined International Hockey League to become one of the best performer of this league.
Suddenly this winter sport became so popular that all Russian boys became obsessed with "the stick & puck".
It will be only fair to say that this popularity was provoked by success of Soviet hockey team which won 7:3 its first World Championship in 1954 beating Canada and 4:0 over US team in 1956 Olympic games in Cortina D'Ampezzo.
Suddenly every boy in USSR wanted a hockey stick for New Year or birthday. No wonder, in 1960-70th everyone was talking about Russian ice hockey dream team.
After seeing breathtaking success and foolhardy behavior of their players on the ice ring Russians considered this sport as "the one for REAL man" and all over the country little boys sang the song Coward doesn't play in hockey ("Trus ne igraet v khokkei")
National ice hockey was mostly dominated by two major clubs TSKA (Soviet Army club) and Spartak.
These people were more then movie stars their faces were all over the news and they were considered as the heroes of their times. They were dashing players and adored by everyone. Wikipedia mentions 4 Soviet players who marked those times:
"The IIHF Team of the Century included four Soviet-Russian players out of a team of six.
Goalkeeper: Vladislav Tretiak,
defense: Vyacheslav Fetisov
and forwards Valeri Kharlamov & Sergei Makarov who played for the Soviet teams in the 1970s and the 1980s were voted on to the IIHF Centennial All-Star Team in a poll conducted by a group of 56 experts from 16 countries."
Collapse of the USSR meant hard times for the national ice hockey.
1989 was the first year when Soviet hockey players began leaving the country searching for a better pay and the weakened team was not as performing as during the Soviet times. It took almost 15 years of ups and downs and searching of new team and coach for Russian hockey to show stable successful result in World championships:
According to statistics Russia has a total of 77,702 players, about 0.05% of its population. Who knows, maybe soon we will see Russian girls ice hockey team (participating in the world championships since 2007) showing surprising results.
Meanwhile healthy outdoor sport wins over indoor ones during the long Russian winter and parents willingly put their little kids to learn the rules of this taught game ))))