Moving some crap around this morning, I gathered up some hockey jerseys, and for the first time took a good, hard look at the logo of Czech club HC Dukla Jihlava.
As if I was seeing it with new eyes, I gasped, I felt shock -- "Is that a freaking hedgehog on the crest?"
It turns out that yes, it is a hedgehog. Two hedgehogs, in fact, countering the more familiar Czech lion, in the four panels of the crest (which is the crest of the city of Jihlava, actually).
I've never, in all my Czech interest, known much about Jihlava -- Bobby Holík comes from there, and, well, that's about it. It turns out to be a fairly interesting place, and picturesque (though, of course, a tourism page would be expected to highlight the pretty buildings as opposed to the BP stations).
But that's neither here nor there. Why the hedgehogs?? Even the city's most popular beer is hedgehog-oriented.
As it turns out, it's widely believed that "Jihlava" comes from the German word for "hedgehog" ("igel," which seems to be a stretch, but I'm not exactly Noam Chomsky when it comes to linguistics), and according to this page, "According to legend, many hedgehogs were in the way when the town and its fortifications were built." So, reading between the lines, Jihlava puts the hedgehog in its logo because the city is built on the squashed remains of thousands of them. Ick.
The hedgehog symbol, of course, spurs all who wear it to fight like the fierce hedgehog, like Jihlava native Marek Chvátal (left, photo swiped from HC Dukla web site). He's playing in the Devils' organization this year, so be sure to give him the hedgehog cheer when he comes to your city.
Or just sing this song, HC Dukla's fight song from the 2004-05 season. A rough translation of the lyrics, far as I can tell, is: "Dukla! Dukla! Goal! Goal! Dukla Goal! Fight hedgehogs fight! More beer, over here! Dukla!" No wonder they got relegated.
EDIT: Apparently Marek Chvátal isn't with the Devils this season. I could swear I saw something saying he signed, but obviously that was incorrect. Rather than rewrite the above bit, I'll just suggest you work wherever Chvátal ends up playing into your travel plans.