Monday, November 30, 2009

Large and in Charge

Among the reasons I love Roman Turek:

* nickname is "Large"
* repeated Iron Maiden homages in his mask designs
* while he seems to be the subject of general mockery these days (most Czech goalies not named Hasek end up this way), he was a really fantastic goalie for a few years there, when the Blues were always on the verge and never quite making it. His 1999-2000 season was brilliant, and 2000-01 not far behind. And I'd argue that if he were a North American goalie, he would have got a chance to redeem himself for the bad series in the 2001 playoffs (a bad series that followed two great ones, I might add).

Anyway. He's now back in the Czech Republic, and probably happier, with HC Ceske Budejovice. This is an old Ceske puck, from an early-1990s incarnation of the club, TJ Motor Ceske Budejovice. He's signed it "Turek Roman #1" -- the reversal of first and last names is fairly common among Czech players. I got this sucker on eBay, but since Turek's always been a fantastic signer, I imagine getting one of your very own wouldn't be too hard.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Something Old, Something New

Oh, hello there. So this is only about the second time I've checked in here in 2009 -- a variety of things got me off track. Time to start it up again, I think, but I haven't been thinking too much about the '84-'85 OPC collection for a while. I'll get back to it, but in the meantime something else.

Some years back, I started collecting pucks on a furious basis -- then stopped abruptly. In a rare moment of clarity, I realized that shelling out $6 apiece to get every single variety of St. Louis Blues holiday pucks was a bit stupid. Since then, I've put a few on display, got a few others signed, but mostly they've sat in a box in the back of the closet.

Now, I've dragged 'em out, and I'm getting them signed. So let's start taking a (semi-regular) look:

Martin Cerven signature on a Seattle Thunderbirds puck. I really don't know much of anything about Cerven; I'm not sure if I had ever heard of him before I went looking for an appropriate ex-Thunderbird. I wanted someone either Czech or Slovak, and since he was born in Trencin and settled in the U.S. after his career was over, he seemed like a good choice.

Born in 1977, Cerven was drafted by Edmonton in 1995 and came over to the WHL that year. He started off with Spokane, then moved to Seattle in a trade that sent future NHLer Jan Hrdina to the Chiefs. In 1996-97 he scored 52 points for the T-birds and went to the WHL All-Star Game; his rights were also traded to the Flyers, with whom he signed after the season. He never cracked the big club, playing parts of two seasons with the AHL Phantoms, and then bouncing around the ECHL for a few seasons. I suspect (perhaps wrongly) that injuries may have been a problem; he never played more than 62 games in a season after that '96-'97 year. In 2000-01, he scored 12 points in 59 games for three ECHL teams. He was waived by the Greensboro Generals toward season's end and as far as I can tell, never played again.

He's now living in the Seattle area and signed this through the mail. Since I have considerable interest in Eastern European players, I track their movements pretty carefully and take note when one of them decides to make a permanent home in North America after his career. It seems like among those who play in Canadian juniors, they're much more likely to stay in North America afterwards if they play in the WHL; off the top of my head, Jaroslav Svejkovsky, Karel Betik, and Dmitri Leonov all come to mind; I know I've come across others, too. Maybe I'm wrong but I think it's far more than Europeans in the OHL or QMJHL. What it all means, I don't know, but I find it kinda interesting.