I was sitting here today, watching the NHL Winter Classic game between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers and it took me back to when we had professional hockey in Kentucky. It has been almost seven years since the Lexington Men-O-War (2002-2003) and the Kentucky Thoroughblades (1996-2001) called Rupp Arena home ice. I am still amazed at the number of players that came through the Kentucky minor league teams and eventually went on to have great careers in the NHL. Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins defensemen and team captain was one of those players. The 6'9 Chara is the tallest player in the history of the NHL and is one of the leagues best defensive players. He played in 49 games for the Thoroughblades during the 1997-1998 season. If you missed Chara in the big game today, you can check him out when he takes the ice for the Slovakian national team during the 2010 Olympics. Chara won't be the only player with a Kentucky connection, there will be a total of eight former Kentucky players representing their national teams.
Zdeno Chara Defense Slovakia
Herberts Vasiljevs Forward Latvia
Yevgeny Nabokov Goalie Russia
Dan Boyle Defense Canada
Filip Kuba Defense Czech Republic
Miikka Kiprusoff Goalie Finland
Ville Peltonen Forward Finland
Jason Holland Defense Germany
Just because Kentucky is void of professional ice hockey, that doesn't mean you still can't catch a game live. U of L, UK, EKU and NKU all have club hockey teams that compete in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). A midnight UK hockey game is a must see if you have never been. In addition to the college teams, several high schools in Lexington, Louisville, Owensboro and Northern Kentucky also field club teams.