HC Slovan, a team based in Bratislava, Slovakia, has submitted an application to join the KHL for the start of next season. The hockey team was founded in 1921 in Bratislava after a soccer club under the same name had bee formed in 1919, and has become one of the most dominant teams in Slovakia after the fall of Czechoslovakia. Since 1994 when Czechoslovakia broke apart, the team has won seven Slovak championships - nearly one in every two years - and also has a Czechslovakian championship to their credit in 1979. Before that, the team won three straight Spengler Cups from 1972 to 1974, and has recently won the 2003-04 IIHF Continental Cup. The team is storied, but their recent history proves that they are one of the better teams in European league play.
The team has produced a number of stars, some of which played in the NHL:
- Petr Buzek - defenceman who played for Dallas, Atlanta, and Calgary.
- Zdeno Ciger - forward who played for New Jersey, Edmonton, the NY Rangers, and Tampa Bay.
- Robert Dome - forward who briefly appeared with Pittsburgh and Calgary.
- Jaroslav Halak - current St. Louis Blues goaltender.
- Miroslav Satan - forward who played for Edmonton, Buffalo, the NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, and Boston.
- Josef Stumpel - forward who played for Los Angeles, Boston, and Florida.
- Lubomir Visnovsky - current Anaheim Ducks defenceman.
The team finished in third-place in the Slovak Extraliga standings this season with a 32-16-7 record. They missed top spot by a mere eight points, so the race to the finish in the Slovak Extraliga appeared to be down to the wire this season. The playoffs, however, will feature the top-seeded HC Kosice and the soon-to-be-KHL-bound HC SLovan in the Slovak Extraliga Final this year. The first game of the final goes April 8, so the eventual Slovak Extraliga Champion could be off to compete in the KHL next year!
Of course, nothing is written in stone yet as a KHL committee will travel to the Slovak capital to carry out an inspection of HC Slovan’s infrastructure before making a decision regarding the club's participation in the KHL next season. We've seen the KHL turn down teams before, so there is no guarantee that HC Slovan will get in. However, you'd have to think that their success and history would be a major reason why they have a good chance to get in, especially if they are joining as the Slovakian champions.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!