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SabreFaninNYC

Chinese Hockey

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Ok, so on Mirtle's blog, he talked about the SJ Sharks sending some guys over to China to play on the "China Sharks". This got me to thinking- any Chinese jerseys over there for all of us IJers to look at?

Well, I am not sure if this is the China Sharks jersey or not but it looks pretty cool (especially for what seems to be a rec league).

67_small.jpg

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if you are really interested in hockey in Asia..and other far away lands you should definitely pick up:

Dave Bidini's " Tropic of Hockey-My Search For the Game in Unlikely Places"

a little review:

We were reminded of this just a couple of weekends ago, when one of us found himself on a

tiny town rink in the woods of New Hampshire, out there all by himself at midnight, and the only

sound, besides the breeze whispering through the pines, was the sound of his skates carving the ice,

crystal shards tinkling across the frozen surface, and the stickblade not so rhythmically knocking

against the hard rubber of that Czech-made puck. Nothing could have made it clearer to even the

most hardened cynic that yes, hockey lives. It was impossibly romantic for someone who lives in

a big city where ice is rare, hockey is ill-followed, and wintertime sports conversation veers drearily,

over and over again, to basketball and its one-plus-one-equals-two preoccupations with height,

jumping ability, and whiteness versus blackness.

You'd figure that someone who lives in a place where a solitary midnight skate and an in-depth

discourse on, say, Claire Alexander versus Alyn McCauley can be had on any night over four or

five months of the year would take it all for granted. The romance would have to grow stale, right?

But no: there were those people from all across Canada calling in to tell us how they still loved

hockey itself -- and now there's Dave Bidini, too, in his marvelous travelogue--memoir

Tropic of Hockey: My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places.

Bidini, second guitarist for the venerable Rheostatics, chronicler of Canadian rock past and

present in his first book, On a Cold Road, and -- full disclosure -- a good friend of ours, is a

dedicated, even fanatical, rec hockey player in his native Toronto. He loves the Leafs and the

NHL -- well, he used to love the NHL, but, as for so many of us, it had gotten boring for him.

The breaking point, as he describes it early in Tropic of Hockey, came while he was watching

the third game of the '98 Cup Final between Detroit and Washington, a hot June day when "the sun

beat like a kick drum against the curtains and men in undershirts watered their sidewalks." Bidini

doesn't know who's winning the game, and what's more, he doesn't care -- nor do the announcers

or even the players. "Bob Cole and Harry Neale," he writes, "who had suffered through every

playoff series of the post-season, sounded as if they were describing the action with their chins

propped on their hands. Finally, two players I'd never heard of fenced for the puck and chipped it

into the stands. The referee called a TV timeout and both teams drifted, heads lowered, towards

their benches." Bidini switches channels, switches off NHL hockey for good, and hits on a

fantastic idea: to go where hockey is new and fresh and untarnished by greed, marketing,

and monopoly.

His journey takes him through Hong Kong, where undersized rinks are shoehorned into

multilevel shopping malls; Harbin, China's northernmost metropolis and a longtime stronghold

of winter sports, even hockey; Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, where a state-of-the-art rink

rises out of the desert like a mirage; and Ciuc, Romania, where the game goes back some 80

years and serves as a point of defiance for the ethnic Hungarians of Transylvania in their struggle

against the central authorities in far-off Bucharest. Along the way he meets hockey-loving expats

and touring amateurs from Canada, the U.S., Scandinavia, and Russia, but more fascinating still

are the Chinese, Arab, and Romanian players he encounters -- some new converts to the religion

of hockey, some second-, third-, and fourth-generation types for whom the game is as ingrained as

it is for any Canadian; it's just that these men have been playing in complete and utter obscurity,

cut off from the rest of the hockey-playing world.

Dragging his smelly hockey gear with him and accompanied by his always-cheerful, ever-sensible

wife, Janet, Bidini is a colourful and insightful eyewitness to the first uncertain steps of the UAE

national team as they do battle with the Singapore national team, and he sees it as a hockey player

sees it: "At one point, Darwish stopped a shot with the top of his goalie helmet. It was a freak save,

but the puck hiccupped to a Singapore winger who made an easy goal. Skating back to the bench,

Ahmed yelled at Mohammed, who'd left the winger unmarked. Mohammed yelled at Turqi, his

defence partner. Nasser yelled at Mohammed, who yelled back as they settled on the bench. It

wasn't pretty. But here was a team." In Harbin, Bidini bridges the unbridgable cultural and language

chasm by naming Canadian and Russian stars, the only words he speaks that his fellow players

recognize and respond to: "the language of hockey." Writes Bidini: "We wouldn't have shared

the intimacy of these visions had we been discussing art, literature, or film... But the name of

a hockey player was all it took to understand a small but significant piece of each other's hearts."

As the author and his wife navigate teeming streets, arrow-straight superhighways bankrolled by

Big Oil, and dank, socialist-realist arenas, memories of a life in hockey are never far away. Those

memories, familiar to any North American who grew up with the game, provide reading every bit as

rich as exotic tales of traipsing in full hockey gear through an Emirate spice bazaar among veiled,

kohl-eyed beauties. An expat Canadian kid's room in Hong Kong, for instance, inspires in Bidini

this Proustian recollection of madaleines past: "That sweet pink smell of the flat broken bubblegum

stick that came in a hockey-card pack filled with pictures of Andy Brown's glove coming at you like

a cobra's hood or Gilles Marotte with his Black Hawks crest inked out or Guy Charron with plastic

hair. His books reminded me of the ones my parents gave me for Christmas -- The Ice Men,

This is Hockey, The Burly Bruins, Brian MacFarlane's Hockey Annual, Bobby Orr: My Game,

and magazines like Hockey Pictorial, Hockey Illustrated, and Hockey Digest, which ran stories

like "Skip Krake Hopes He's Here to Stay" and "Kirkland Lake Is Still the Cradle of Hockey"

and "The Overnight Success of Mike Laughton."

In the final portion of the book, Bidini goes to Transylvania, where an air of menace prevails,

fueled by equal parts alcohol, the usual Eastern European poverty and ethnic tension, and the

lingering after-effects of the spirit-numbing Ceaucescu regime. His description of the Romanian

league game between the local team, Sport Klub, and the big team from the capital (and former

Interior Ministry flag-bearers), Steaua, will be familiar to anyone conversant with the recent

literature of soccer: here Bidini paints a picture of riot police, simmering hatred among Hungarians,

Romanians, and the universally reviled Gypsies, and the sense that your team is much more than

merely a team. One Sport Klub partisan tells him this: "Well, in hockey, you see, we in Ciuc have

demonstrated to Romania that we are the best. We have shown the world that, even though we are

a minority, hockey is ours, it is our voice. In 70 years, we have not had one Romanian play for us,

only Hungarians... In 1989, Miercurea Ciuc became the first place in Romania where 5,000 men

were heard singing in public a song in the Hungarian language! It was our team's hymn. ... We

sang this song even though we knew the rest of Romania did not want to hear it. We sang it in

victory and in defeat. Our voices came out, out, out!"

Bidini goes around the world in search of hockey, and he does find it in the most unlikely places.

In the final pages in this book, as he plays a pickup game in the arena at Ciuc, he weaves it all

together: the famous Canadians like Esposito and famous Europeans like Jagr who have passed

through the rink, the Romanians who played against them, the Chinese whom he met and some

of whom themselves played there, and on and on in a passage so beautiful it would be unfair to

reproduce it here. Suffice to say that Tropic of Hockey is a superb book full of superb stories,

funny and profane and beautiful and exotic all at the same time. Our only wish is that Bidini had

visited more places and included those stories as well. May hockey continue to spread to new

lands, and may Bidini go there and chronicle those stories, too.

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Found out more about the Asia League Ice Hockey- they have teams and links. Here is the main webpage and a few pics of the jerseys:

http://www.alhockey.com/

17.JPG

img02.jpg

And my favorite:

2I8Q2097.jpg

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Hi There. I collect Chinese jerseys. I have the home and away national team nike jerseys. I believe the Sharks jersey you have in the picture is for Shanghai Sharks. The Hanzi (characters) on the top of the jerseys stand for Shanghai. I believe the bottom ones stand for sharks. Although my chinese is very limited ( I continue to learn from my wife) I'm certain about the top characters. Thought I would add a little info with regards to the picture.

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Hi There. I collect Chinese jerseys. I have the home and away national team nike jerseys. I believe the Sharks jersey you have in the picture is for Shanghai Sharks. The Hanzi (characters) on the top of the jerseys stand for Shanghai. I believe the bottom ones stand for sharks. Although my chinese is very limited ( I continue to learn from my wife) I'm certain about the top characters. Thought I would add a little info with regards to the picture.

Many thanks Latenite!!!

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