I'm paying jack shit attention to hockey these days -- other concerns, and the Avalanche and Thrashers have done nothing (Darcy Tucker? Ron Hainsey?) to make me giddy about the upcoming season.
But I'm always up for a good jersey, especially when it's an old Czech jersey.
This lovely ensemble is a HC Zetor Brno jersey, from the late 1980s. I've wanted one of these for a while -- a couple have gone up for auction in recent years, but I've always missed out. Until now, baby. Until now.
Brno is the Czech Republic's second city, and for a while HC Brno was the class of Czechoslovakia -- from 1955 through 1966, they won 11 out of 12 league titles. Not bad! But like another once-proud team, Dukla Jihlava -- they've fallen on hard times, and they've only been in the top Czech league once since 1992. Not good!
There have been some signs of a turnaround. Former St. Louis Blues defenseman Libor Zabransky (of course I own a Libor Zabransky jersey) has taken charge of the team, and has had them near the top of the second-highest league in recent years. But I guess (I'm relying on my poor translations) money problems persist, and despite a solid regular season in 2007-08, they failed to earn promotion to the Extraliga.
This jersey belonged to left-winger Jiri Rech, who played for Zetor Brno from 1984 through 1990. Judging by the condition of the jersey, he wore the same one just about the whole time. Click on the link (the hckometa.wz.cz website is a really cool site, by the way, for any other Czech hockey history nerds) to see him during his stint playing drums for Black Flag (Process of Weeding Out-era). He's a coach at a hockey school now, and his son's a goalie somewhere in the Czech leagues. Hokej.cz has him listed as an assistant coach for KLH Chomutov, but Chomutov's web page doesn't back that up, so I can only conclude that someone is lying.
Cool-ass number. So European.
The arms are just shredded -- I would have thought that Rech was a tough guy, but it appears he was up for about 15 penalty minutes a year. This leads me to the aforementioned conclusion -- that it was worn for several seasons -- but there's other possibilities. Perhaps someone pulled a knife on him on the ice. Perhaps the rats got to it.
I remember when old Soviet game-worn jerseys started showing up in the U.S., and collectors noted the distinctive smell. This one has that. It could have used some heavier laundering somewhere along the way, officially making my hobby even creepier.
Fiatagri, as you might have guessed, makes tractors. Actually, so does Zetor, the company that got its name on the front of the jersey. I'd surmise that Brno is/was a heavy agricultural community, but I don't think that's true. Wikipedia sheds no light. It does reveal, though, that writers Bohumil Hrabal, Milan Kundera, and Robert Musil all hail from there, which is pretty excellent.
There you have it: Brno. Smartassness aside, I love this jersey - it's my fourth (yes, fourth) Brno jersey and by far my favorite. Really gorgeous. So if you're one of the many hockey fans who will be vomiting blood as we watch the Red Wings go 82-0 this year -- join me instead as we root on HC Kometa (dunno why Zetor dropped 'em) Brno, as they hopefully return to the Czech Extraliga.
HC Kometa Brno: official hockey team of the Post-Pessimist Association, 2008-09!
As always, this jersey concept came from Tapeleg. Go visit him, and ask him why he hasn't done any of these in a while.