Following what many saw as a controversial reelection of Igor Nemeček as the head of the Slovak Ice Hockey Association (SZHL), a number of prominent Slovakian players have pledged to boycott the national team under Nemeček’s leadership.
Nemeček, who defeated former national team player Richard Lintner in an election to continue on as Chief of the association, a title he has held for four years, by a vote of 58 to 45, after serving as Secretary General for ten years prior. Lintner, supported by fellow ex-players such as Peter Bondra and Miroslav Šatan, was looking to unseat the current regime, who many players saw as counterintuitive to the development of hockey in Slovakia and corrupt, admitted that his new ideas will likely be leveraged by Nemeček in his next term.
Upset by the decision, 27 current Slovakian players have signed a pledge criticizing the current regime, vowing to not associate themselves with the current SZHL leadership, which would include not donning their national colours in international competition. While the decision should not affect the 2016 World Cup, which will feature a “Euro All-Stars” team in lieu of an all-Slovakian squad, this will impact the 2016 Worlds (if the boycott reaches next spring), certainly unwanted attention on the SZHL, which will host the World Championships in 2019.
While we certainly hope the issue is resolved soon, as the players in the boycott makes up the core of the Slovakian talent pool to choose from (including eight players at this year’s World Championships), we hope that any claims of corruption are quickly and swiftly addressed, so the focus of the SZHL can continue to be improving the Slovakian game and developing the game locally.
The 27 Slovakian players who signed the pledge, spanning five leagues across the globe, are as follows (latest team and league in parentheses):
|Luboš Bartečko (Prague, KHL)
Peter Budaj (Winnipeg, NHL)
Zdeno Chára (Boston, NHL)
Marián Gáborík (Los Angeles, NHL)
Dominik Graňák (Rögle, SHL)
Jaroslav Halák (NY Islanders, NHL)
Peter Hamerlík (Třinec, CZE)
Michal Handzuš (Banská Bystrica, SVK)
Marcel Hossa (Modo, SHL)
Marián Hossa (Chicago, NHL)
Július Hudáček (Örebro, SHL)
Tomáš Jurčo (Detroit, NHL)
Tomáš Kopecký (Florida, NHL)
Ján Laco (Astana, KHL)
|Ján Lašák (Liberec, CZE)
Martin Marinčin (Toronto, NHL)
Andrej Meszároš (Buffalo, NHL)
Ladislav Nagy (Bratislava, KHL)
Richard Pánik (Toronto, NHL)
Peter Podhradský (Togliatti, KHL)
Branko Radivojevič (Liberec, CZE)
Andrej Sekera (Edmonton, NHL)
Jozef Stümpel (Nitra, SVK)
Radoslav Suchý (Omsk, KHL)
Tomáš Tatar (Detroit, NHL)
Ľubomír Višňovský (NY Islanders, NHL)
Richard Zedník (retired)