1950. The Soviets sent 11 Czech players to jail to stop them?!!!
One forgets how unjust life was under Soviet rule, even in the hockey world. The following excerpt of a story about the Czech national team is an example, an incredible tale, of tragedy in the Czech hockey history I had no idea of:
"They were champions of the world. But, all too soon the victory laurels would be overshadowed by two unexpected events. In 1949, when the Czech team was scheduled to play in London, six players were killed when their plane crashed. Then, March 13th, 1950, the team was meant to go to London once again to take part in the world championship. But, at the airport players found out there would be no take-off. Player Vaclav Rozinak told Czech Radio in 1968 the details of what had transpired.
"In London, we wanted to prove that the team was good, that the world title we won in 1949 had not been a coincidence. But, then some people appeared and said that we would not be going because visas for the reporters had not been obtained. Two days later it was clear we would have to stay. Of course, we were annoyed. The whole thing peaked at a pub when undercover [Soviet] secret police showed up. Somehow a fight broke out and we ended up at the police station. We thought it was all a joke and thought we'd only stay there over night. Even in court, when we were suddenly found guilty of treason and espionage, we laughed and didn't take the charade seriously. But the fun was over when we ended up in prison with our hair shaved off. We released then they truly were not going to let us go."
Vaclav Rozinak got ten years in prison, while ten others got sentences ranging from one to fifteen years, in a show trial orchestrated for fear by the communists the whole team might have emigrated to England, pleading asylum. In 1955 the players were released under amnesty, and were officially rehabilitated in 1968. But seven players died later from forced labor suffered in uranium mines. There was no real going back.
Meanwhile, in the mid-1950s the Soviet Union won for the first time at Stockholm a precursor of the domination it would come to hold over the next thirty odd years. In later years - especially the 60s and 70s, a win over the Soviet Union carried great symbolic and political significance: four years after the brutal crushing of the Prague Spring Czechoslovakia defeated the Soviets in the finals at the World Championships and did so again in '76. Both wins must have made favored apparatchiks cringe, but the Czechoslovak nation secretly celebrated - at the time this was one of the few real means of exacting any kind of symbolic revenge."
link to rest of story here: http://www.radio.cz/en/article/53259