HockeyTradeRumors In Northern Italy Part I
Hello hockey fans! Welcome to HTR’s Olympic coverage in Torino, Italy.
This is mikster, and as I promised you…. I will be giving you all the good information about Torino and Italy. This is Part I, and it’s all about ice hockey.Benvenuti!
I have been so thrilled to write about Torino 2006. This is where my family is from, pretty much. I take real pride in my country where I was born and raised. Though I am a born Roman, my blood is still very Northern Italian.
The first thing I would like to show you is the map of Northern Italy with its hockey clubs. This is from the Web site of Bolzano Foxes, where Jaromir Jagr played for a few games.
Torino, as you see, is in the Piemonte region. About half hour from Torino is a very small city called Biella, where my family used to live. Watch out, though, people from Biella have a rivalry with the Torinesi, especially in soccer. Biella is in favor of Juventus FC, as many of you may know about that team (I’m a big Juve fan), and Torino has its own soccer team which is not in Serie A this year.
Here is a little historical fact. The Torino soccer club (Grande Torino) used to be a dominant team in the 1940’s. But in 1949…one of the worst tragedies in history of sports occured when the team’s flight from Lisbon to Torino crashed and all of the players died. The players are remembered at the Basilica di Superga, a very beautiful basilica. Here is a link to check it out, in English as well.
Before I go further, though, I would like to have this special edition in honor of my grandfather, Pietro Masserano della Marmora. This guy remains a hero for me even though I never got to meet him. Believe it or not, he played some hockey! And on my grandmother’s side, there is Swedish blood. No wonder why I got to love the game! But this man was brave, smart, and all about class. A successfull neurologist who was just a young kid studying medicine in his early college years during World War II, where he and his family hid two US paratroopers in the attic of their castle-like mansion. Biella was a small town back then, and the Nazis suspected where American soldiers could be hidden. Not only did he cure and cared for those two great soldiers, but he was tortured by the Nazis in front of his family. Yet he refused to speak. As a Thank You, he was given a beautiful Willys vehicle with the big white star on the hood after the war ended. Great man, did a lot of good things…unfortunately passed away too young and well before I was born.
This one’s for you nonno!
Hockey was presented in Italy in the early 1900’s…guess where? In Torino. But, only by the early 1920’s did hockey gain some popularity where in 1924 the first hockey team was in Milano (Milan). And, only in the 1950’s and 60’s did it gain more ground in other parts, such as Cortina and Bolzano. Originally, the real league started with eight hockey clubs, and a few years ago in 2000/2001, a 9th club was added in Milano, but did not last long as it folded.
In Italy, championship winning titles are called scudetti (skoo-deh-ttea). The leader in scudetti is HC Bolzano with 16 titles and right behind them is Cortina with 15. As stated earlier, Bolzano is where Jagr played in 1994-1995 for just 6 games, yet scored 16 points.
The Eight teams are:
HC Fassa (Tony Amonte played for this club)
HC Milano Vipers
HC Asiago (Tony Tuzzolino currently playing, and where Cliff Ronning played)
HC Pustertal Wolfe/Lupi (Wolves)
HC Alleghe (Bruce Cassidy, former Washington Capitals Head Coach played a few seasons there)
SG Cortina (David Jensen who played for the Caps and Whalers. Ron Flockhart, who was a popular Flyer in the early 1980’s.)
Amazing how some players found their way to Italy. Who would have ever thought that Cliff Ronning, Tony Amonte, and a little bit of Jaromir Jagr would play in the Italian hockey league? During the lockout season, Jamie Lundmark played some time for Bolzano, while Rico Fata also spent his time in Asiago. Peter Schaefer of the Ottawa Senators played for Bolzano as well.
It is a place where you can enjoy life and play hockey.
This is why I think it is just a matter of time before things pick up in Italy. It took some time with Switzerland. Austria is picking up somewhat. Soon it will be Italy’s turn and the Olympics could increase the interest of the game that we love the most. It will never be a big sport in Italy. Soccer and basketball dominate. But, things could get quite interesting in a decade.
Italy could have had a good future with an Italian Canadian whose brother currently plays with the New York Rangers. The brother, Steve Rucchin, the man who could have led Italy in hockey prgrams, Larry Rucchin. It is sad to use the past tense with Larry, because it is unfortunate to say that he passed away in 2002 after a two year fight with colon cancer. He was just 35 years old. He contributed with the Italian National hockey team, and once was face to face with his brother Steve. Larry as Azzuro, Steve in Canadian Red.
I found this link:
If you scroll down you will find a sketch of Larry Rucchin, two actually, and one with his brother.
The Rucchins originated from Milano. Who knows, maybe one day after Steve Rucchin retires, he may go to Italy to coach the national team. I sure hope so!
Of course my dream would be to take part in Italian hockey. There are just so many things I have to accomplish before making such a dream come true. But if you ever see Peroni as part of the Italian national team, you know where he came from!
This concludes Part I of HTR’s Special Olympic coverage of Torino. I hope you enjoyed it and for all those Italian Americans/Canadians out there…. be proud of your roots. Italy is a beautiful country. A rather….small country yet with many different cultures. Every province is different. Imagine living life drinking great beer and wine (included in Part II), eating awesome food… and playing hockey. How about that?
Thank you all for reading. Part II will be all about the drinks, the food…. all the stuff to make you drool! And of course, a good talk about Olympic Hockey.
Enjoy the Olympics!
p.s. Happy St. Valentines to you all