|The enthusiasm and passion of the fans is summed up|
by the raucous lot from Kometa Brno
Photo: Ivo Dostál
But what makes the hockey so great? Why does this nobody want to lecture me on the best hockey? Honestly, I can't really tell you what makes it so great. Come playoff time though, there's one word that sums up the Extraliga. Passion. You can see it on the faces of every player. Every goal is celebrated to the fullest, and although the term giving 110% gets thrown around far too often, with these players, they truly are giving everything and more in order to bring their team to victory. There is also an incredible parity in the league, which means that you can never count any team out. After looking dreadful in Game 1, losing 3:0 at the o2 Arena to Slavia, Plzeň, led by former NHL stalwart Martin Straka, won Games 2 and 3 and looked to have the upper hand, only to lose Game 4. It is this same sort of parity which sees Liberec, who have been consistently one of the best teams in the regular season over the past four years, now playing in the relegation playoffs. The two finalists from last year, Pardubice and Kometa Brno are both out of contention, while Sparta Praha, who were sitting bottom of the table in November, ended up making the playoffs and losing in seven games in the quarter finals. I go into every game I watch never knowing who is going to win, and I've lost far too much money over the years trying to use my knowledge on betting, only to lose my winnings to a last minute goal or the like.
|My favourite hockey photo. Tomáš Svoboda after scoring|
the game tying goal vs Liberec in the 2011 Playoffs.
Photo: Michal Beránek
Cocky or brilliant? Robert Kysela showboats in the 2001 Playoffs
So this is my plea to you, from one hockey fan to another. I write this as I have half of my screen taken up by my beloved Slavia, currently losing by one goal to Plzeň in Game 6, which if they don't win, means their season is over. God forbid that they do lose this game, sure, I'll be downhearted, but it's a joy to watch this Plzeň team, and wish them all the best in the future.
The Czech Extraliga is the best hockey that you're not watching. Change that now.