Category Archives: Ice hockey

Jaroslav Drobný



Used Name,Jaroslav Drobný

Born,12 October 1921; Praha (Prague) (CZE)

Died,13 September 2001; Tooting-Greater London (GBR)

Affiliations,ČLTK Praha (CZE)


Jaroslav Drobný won an Olympic silver medal with the Czechoslovakian ice hockey squad at the 1948 St. Moritz Olympics, but was more famous as a tennis player. For years, he played ice hockey during the winter and tennis in the summer, but his hockey career was cut short in 1949. During a tennis tournament in Gstaad, Switzerland, he defected from communist Czechoslovakia with a fellow Davis Cup player, Vladimír Černík. Drobný, who had won the 1947 World Championships with Czechoslovakia, could no longer represent his country on the ice.

As an Egyptian citizen, Drobný won Grand Slam singles titles at Roland Garros (1951, 1952) and Wimbledon (1954). His 1954 Wimbledon championship made him the first left-hander to win that title. He was also a five-time runner-up in Grand Slam events; three times at Roland Garros (1946, 1948, 1950), and twice at Wimbledon (1949, 1952). His ice hockey legacy could still be found in his dark prescription glasses, which he needed following a hockey accident that severely affected his eyesight.

Drobný uniquely competed at Wimbledon for four different “nations.” He first played there in 1938, representing Czechoslovakia, and again under that designation in 1946-49. In 1939, following political upheaval in Europe, he was listed from the Nazi-occupied protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. Following his 1949 defection, Drobný was given an Egyptian passport, and won his Grand Slam titles representing that nation from 1950-59. In 1959, he traded his Egyptian passport for a British one, and lived in London for the rest of his life. During a 15-year amateur career, he won over 130 singles titles, and was world ranked in the top 10 from 1946-55. Drobný was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1983. In 1997 he was made a member of the International Ice Hockey Hall of Fame.

Ice Hockey Factsheets

Olympic History:          Ice hockey is a sport of Canadian origin that began in the early 19th century.  It is based on several similar sports played in Europe, notably bandy in Scandinavia, and somewhat similar to the sports of shinny and hurling.  Around 1860, a puck was substituted for a ball, and in 1879, two McGill University students, W. F. Robertson and R. F. Smith, devised the first rules, combining field hockey and rugby regulations.  Originally the game was played nine to a side.  The first recognized team, the McGill University Hockey Club, was formed in 1880.

The sport became the Canadian national sport with leagues everywhere.  In 1894, Lord Stanley of Preston, Governor-General of Canada, donated a Cup that was first won in 1894 by a team representing the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association – the Stanley Cup.

Between the 1880s and World War I ice hockey became popular in Europe.  The first European Championship was played in 1910 at Les Avants in the Swiss Alps, won by Great Britain.  Ice hockey also spread below the border to the United States with the formation of the U.S. Amateur Hockey League, founded in New York in 1896.

Ice hockey was contested at the 1920 Summer Olympics at Antwerp, held in early April.  These were also the first world championships and were played by seven-man sides, the only time seven-man teams played in the Olympics.  In 1924, the Olympics began using the current standard of six-men on the ice at a time. Also, in 1920, the games consisted of two 20-minute halves, for a 40-minute game. In 1924, 1928, 1932, and 1936, the Olympic games were three 15-minute periods, for a 45-minute game.

Ice hockey has been held at every Olympic Winter Games.  Canada dominated early Olympic ice hockey tournaments, as might be expected.  From 1956, when it first entered the Olympic Winter Games, and easily won the ice hockey tournament, until its break-up, the Soviet Union was the pre-eminent country, their dominance interrupted only by huge American upsets in 1960 and 1980.

Beginning in the 1980s, professional hockey players who had played in the National Hockey League (NHL) were declared eligible to compete in the Olympic ice hockey tournament.  These professionals primarily represented Sweden, Finland, or Czechoslovakia at the Olympics, as the Canadian and American players were competing in the NHL season.  However, at Nagano in 1998, the NHL suspended play for two weeks to allow all NHL players to represent their nations at the Olympics.

This has also been the pattern in 2002, 2006, and 2010, and it will be at Sochi in 2014 as well. The NHL continues to allow this although it seems to kick and scream about it between each Olympics. Recently, it has stated that perhaps it would be better to resurrect the World Cup instead of disrupting the NHL season for Olympic competition.

Women’s ice hockey began to develop in the 1920s in Canada.  By the 1960s, women’s ice hockey in Canada was more organized with girls’ leagues throughout the nation.  In 1982 the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association organized the first Canadian national tournament.  Concurrently, women’s teams and leagues began to develop in the United States and Europe.  The first international championship was the World Invitational Tournament in 1987 in Missisauga, Ontario, Canada, and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) began to plan a womens’ world championships.  European women’s championships began in 1989 and the first women’s world ice hockey championships took place in 1990.

Ice hockey was approved as an Olympic sport for women by the IOC in 1992, and women’s Olympic ice hockey débuted at Nagano in 1998, and has been contested at each Olympics since. Women’s ice hockey has been dominated at the Olympics by Canada, with the United States a close second. No other women’s teams have really challenged these two nations, although in 2006, Sweden did defeat the United States to get to the final and win a silver medal. Because of the dominance of Canada and the United States, and because it is contested by only a few nations for women the IOC has made some mention that perhaps the sport should not be contested for women at the Winter Olympics.

The first international ice hockey federation was the Ligue Internationale de Hockey sur Glace (LIHG), which was formed in 1908 by four national federations: Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Switzerland.  The federation changed its name to the International Ice Hockey Federation in 1954. The IIHF currently (as of November 2013) has 72 affiliated national federations, all of which are also member nations within the IOC. They are as follows:

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Chinese Taipei, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Democratic People’s Republic (DPR) of Korea (North), Estonia, Finland, France, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea (South), Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Namibia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States.

Five forgotten members of the Triple Gold Club

Arguably, the three biggest titles in ice hockey are the Stanley Cup, the World Championships and the Olympic Games. Only a select group of players can claim to have won all three of them – they are called the Triple Gold Club. The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) even has a page on its site dedicated to the club.  However, this list is incomplete: five Canadian hockey players are missing from the list.

The list of Triple Gold Club members as given by the IIHF (and Wikipedia) starts with three Swedish players who won Olympic gold in 1994. These were the first Olympics where (former) professional hockey players were allowed to compete, so it is not a surprise Triple Gold Club members appeared in that year (It wasn’t until 1998 that the NHL stopped competition to allow players to compete in the Olympics). Tomas Jonsson, Mats Näslund and Håkan Loob are the first three members listed. 

The flaw of this list is that it starts counting World Championships only in 1930. From 1920 through 1928, the World Championships were held concurrently with the Olympic Winter Games – as is also seen elsewhere on the IIHF site. This means that the Olympic champions from these years were also World Champions. In fact, this practice was continued through the 1968 Olympics.

Of course, this makes the threshold of entering the Triple Gold Club somewhat lower, but this should not be a reason to exclude the five Canadians that also won the Stanley Cup in their professional careers.

The first hockey player to achieve the triple was Frank Frederickson. Like many of the Winnipeg Falcons that represented Canada at the 1920 Summer Olympics (!) in Antwerp, he had Icelandic roots. Playing for WCHL outfit Victoria Cougars, he won the Stanley Cup in 1925.

He defended his title in 1926, but Victoria lost to the Montréal Maroons, which featured Dunc Munro, player on the 1924 Olympic team. Two of his teammates with the Toronto Granites (the 1924 Canadian team) became the third and fourth member of the Triple Gold Club. Hooley Smith joined after winning the 1927 Stanley Cup with the Ottawa Senators (in 1935, he would win it again with the Maroons), while Bert McCaffrey won the Stanley Cup with the Maroons in 1930. McCaffrey’s name was never engraved in the trophy though (despite being qualified to win), as he had been sent off to the minors in Providence at the time of the play-offs.

Dave Trottier, who won Olympic gold with the University of Toronto Grads in 1928, was the last member to join before Jonsson, Näslund and Loob. A team member of Smith, he claimed the Stanley Cup in 1935. (Trottier, incidentally, is not related to Bryan Trottier, former New York Islanders star and Hockey Hall of Famer.)

Olympic hockey preview

Because almost no NHL players participate in World Championships, it’s typically very difficult to predict the outcome of the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament. We’ll give it a try from a historical perspective. Starting with a nation that will not win any medals, Germany is missing from the Olympics for the first time since 1948. Back then the country was not invited to compete on account of World War II, but this time they failed to qualify. The twelve nations that did make the cut are divided into three pools.

Group A features Russia, Slovakia, United States and Slovenia. The latter country is likely the weakest competitor in the pool. Slovenia qualified for the Olympics for the first time, although Yugoslavia competed from 1964 through 1976 and in 1984, when the Games were held in Sarajevo. The other three nations will be more closely matched. The home team has never won the Olympic title since the break-up of the Soviet Union, which won eight golds (if we include the 1992 Unified Team), but they medalled in 1998 (silver) and 2002 (bronze). The USA has won the title twice, although both times this was when the Olympics were held in the US (1960 Squaw Valley and of course 1980 Lake Placid). The American’s have a 1-1-1 record versus Russia at the Olympics, most importantly winning in the 2002 semi-finals. If we include the Soviet Union and the Unified Team, the Americans have a negative record of 3-1-9 against the hosts. Slovakia, however, is not to be forgotten. At the Olympics, it has a 2-0-1 record against Russia, winning their pool matches in 2006 and 2010. Versus the US, their record is 1-1-0, beating the Americans in the group stage in 2006, when the three nations were also drawn in the same group. The Slovakians won their pool then, but were knocked out by rivals Czech Republic in the quarter-finals.

In Group B, defending Olympic champion Canada is drawn against Finland, Norway and Austria. The Canadians, have won eight Olympic titles in all, the same as the USSR/Unified Team, and are looking to become the sole record holders. None of their group opponents have ever claimed Olympic gold, although the Finns have won five medals in the last seven Winter Olympics, winning two silvers and three bronzes. Finland is also the only group stage opponent with a neutral Olympic record against the Canadians (5-0-5). Both Austria and Norway have never won against Canada. Neither Austria nor Norway have been very successful in Olympic ice hockey. The Austrians had their best result in 1928, when they ranked 5th (ex aequo), and will make their first appearance since 2002. Norway has always ranked between 8th and 11th in its 10 appearances. The two nations have met 6 times in Olympic play, with Norway having the best record (3-1-2).

The third group, Group C, includes Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and Latvia. Sweden, the 1994 and 2006 champion, has the best Olympic record in this group. They’ve won all encounters against Czech Republic and Latvia, and only lost only once to Switzerland (back in 1948) while recording 8 wins. It should be pointed out they were quite evenly matched with Czechoslovakia, having a 7-1-8 record. The Czech Republic won their only Olympic title in 1998, and earned a bronze in 2006. Before the split with Slovakia in 1993, Czechoslovakia was a consistent medallist, with 4 silvers and 4 bronzes. They played Latvia twice in Vancouver (winning both matches), and Switzerland once in Torino (losing 2-3). The Swiss have not enjoyed any Olympic successes for a long time. In 1928 and 1948, when the Games were held in St. Moritz with the great Bibi Torriani at the helm they won bronze medals. Their best recent performance was a 6th place in 2006. They never played Latvia before, which is competing in its fourth straight Olympics, and fifth time overall. The Baltic nation’s record is not too great. They’ve only ever won two Olympic matches, against Austria and Ukraine in 2002. In 2006 they did nearly upset the US with a 3-3 draw in the group stage.

Where does all this leave us for the medals? Six different countries divided the medals in the last two Olympics (Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Canada, US and Russia), but results from recent World Championships indicate that Switzerland and Slovakia should not be discounted for a medal either. The host nation typically does well if it is one of the major ice hockey nations, the US having won twice in three home Olympics (being losing finalist in the third) and Canada winning one gold in two home Games.  As a prediction has to include medallists, we’ll go for:

  1. Russia – because the home nation does well for major hockey nations
  2. Finland – because they’ve been the most consistent team at medalling for the past 7 Olympics
  3. Canada – because they’re the most successful hockey nation in the Olympics

On the women’s side, predictions are much easier – at least where it concerns the finalists. Since World Championships were first held in 1990, and with the event being Olympic since 1998, the US and Canada have faced each other in the final every time except for the 2006 Olympics, when Sweden upset the Americans in the semi-finals. Canada has had the upper hand at the Olympics, having won the last three golds. In World Championships, however, the US is more dominant in recent years, having won four out of the five last titles. Their head-to-head record at Olympics is 2-0-2, as the Americans won two games in 1998, and then lost the two finals in 2002 and 2010. Apart from these matches and the US loss to Sweden, neither team has ever lost or drawn an Olympic match. Your guess is as good as ours for the gold medallists; both the 2011 and 2012 Worlds were only decided after overtime. If the Canadians win it, it is likely that Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford and Caroline Ouellette, who are all on the preliminary Sochi team, will become the only ice hockey players to have won four golds, a record they currently share with five more Canadian women and six Soviet men. Wickenheiser and Hefford have also won a silver in 1998.

The competition for bronze, however, could be interesting. Finland, two-time bronze medallist, and Switzerland will join the two North American teams in Group A, which features the strongest four nations. The two lowest ranked out of this group will play the best nations of Group B for two semi-final spots. Group B features Russia, which was third in the last World Championships, Sweden, which have won Olympic silver and bronze, Germany and Japan. Based on Olympic results, Sweden has winning records against all nations, having only lost to Finland once. Finland is close, only trailing Sweden 1-0-2. Our final prediction:

  1. United States – because they’re due for a win
  2. Canada – because a women’s Olympic hockey final without Canada has never happened
  3. Switzerland – because the Olympic hockey tournament needs a little surprise