“Playing at home is no fun.” The hockey legend remembers the gold from Prague

“Playing at home is no fun.” The hockey legend remembers the gold from Prague

Historically, the longest Czechoslovak wait for a gold medal from the World Cup took place between 1949 and 1972. After August 1968, the hockey battles with the dominant selection of the USSR added a special charge to the desire to humble the occupiers, at least on the ice. And defenseman Vladimír Bednář, a legend of Pilsen hockey, was also among the Czechoslovak team.

As a youngster, he stood alongside Nedomanský and the Holík brothers in two legendary defeats of the USSR at the World Championship in Sweden in 1969. Three years later, he won the gold medal at the championship in Prague. “It was an incredible success, especially in Pilsen. I was the first world champion ever in the Pilsen region, no one had ever been,” recalls Vladimír Bednář, who was a guest of the Nosiči ledu podcast.

Go through the main topics covered in the interview.

Double defeat of the USSR at the World Cup in 1969

After the invasion of the Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops in August 1968, the following hockey world championship, which was eventually held in Stockholm, Sweden instead of Prague, was the first major sporting confrontation between the two countries. It was more than just a sporting result. The Czechoslovak national team faced the Soviets twice at the championship and won both matches. First 2:0, then 4:3. “The stadium was roaring because the first and second matches were at home. And there was such a clear tactic, whoever you meet, beat him up. They didn’t say where you were going to stand, you were going to put it there, simply against the strength and quality that they had at that time, there had to be only brute force,” recalls Bednář of the matches.

Due to the loss to Sweden in the last match, the Czechoslovak national team finished in third place, but that didn’t bother anyone too much. The main goal was achieved. “We didn’t know at all what was happening in Prague or the Czech Republic, so it wasn’t until the next day that there was a picture in the newspaper of what was happening at Wenceslas Square, that Aeroflot was getting fired and things like that. That the nation needed some retribution for that time, for that occupation. I didn’t expect that we would arrive and that there would be so many people,” recalls Bednář of the enthusiastic welcome upon his return.

Photo: ČTK, Getty Images, Seznam Zpravy

Ice Bearers

Ice Bearers podcast series by hockey historian and member of the design committee of the Czech Hockey Hall of Fame Tomáš Kučera, in which he presents the most interesting moments of the rich Czech and Czechoslovakian hockey history and interviews those who created this history directly on the ice. Released as a Water Bearer bonus series.

The secret police on hockey

In 1972, the world championship, postponed for three years, could finally take place in Prague. The Czechoslovak team eventually won them and won the gold medal after 22 years. But the inveterate communist manipulators trained in Moscow left nothing to chance. “Those cops weren’t watching hockey at all, they were looking into the auditorium to make sure there wasn’t any trouble. Of course. It was the first start of the Russian team after the occupation in Prague,” remembers the Prague championship after more than half a century, its then participant, national team defender Vladimír Bednář. “They expected something to happen, but it didn’t. Because we beat them, there was peace. If we had lost, it would have been a lot,” he adds.

WC on home soil

Vladimír Bednář also knows what it’s like to play the championship on home soil. “Tough situation. The situation will be difficult this year as well. Playing at home is no fun. That’s the pressure in the media, the pressure of everything. You are under supervision, as we were, and the team will be under such supervision this year as well,” Bednář compares what will await the Czech national team at this year’s WC in hockey, which will take place in Prague and Ostrava.

Stories from the history of hockey

Foto: Getty Images

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List News has prepared a series of articles on the history of hockey championships. Where was hockey passion born, when were the Czechs champions? Unknown stories from the history of this sport.

A poke in the eye

Half a year after the golden championship in Prague, Bednář’s unfortunately deflected puck hit him in the eye, and for a long time it was not certain whether he would become completely blind. In the end, the worst prognosis was not confirmed, but the following year he could forget about hockey. But with his bulldog tenacity, he was able to return to the league stadiums again, even though he had significant limitations. In the Ice Bearers podcast, he himself talks about it by saying that he was “just scrambling”.

And he also explained why he doesn’t like apricots ever since. “Medicine was not where it is now. That’s why I visited a spice shop woman and she advised me to eat apricots. I was in the hospital for about two months, so I had those apricot stunts there. I was just stocking up to make it better in some way,” he recalls the unpleasant moments when he was receiving treatment.

You can also listen to the entire interview in the audio version in the Nosiči ledu podcast:

Ice Bearers

  • Author: Tomáš Kučera
  • Editor: Pavel Vondra
  • Music: Martin Hůla
  • Sound design: David Kaiser

The Seznam Zpráv podcast series, in which Tomáš Kučera describes the most interesting moments of our rich hockey history and interviews those who were personally present at the greatest successes.

Every Thursday – from 21 March – to be listened to as a bonus episode of the related podcast Nosiči vody on Podcasty.cz, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and other podcast applications.

Feedback is welcome at the e-mail address [email protected].

Photo: ČTK, Getty Images, Seznam Zpravy

Ice Bearers

2024-04-28 08:30:00
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