Chmielewski: The Spengler Cup is the best and most prestigious friendly tournament in the world

Monday, December 26, in Davos, Switzerland, after a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Spengler Cup will kick off for the 94th time. It is the oldest hockey tournament in the world, the first edition was held in 1923.

I remember watching the Spengler Cup on television from a very young age, as it was always played during the Christmas period. You could see very good teams and great players in action. I secretly dreamed it would be fun to play in such a prestigious tournament, and so far I’ve had the honor twice.

You played in Davos in 2018 and 2019 and so far these are the last tournaments as the last two editions of the Spengler Cup have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. I’m not asking which tournament you remember best, because the other ended well for you. It was the last edition in 2019 and you qualified for the grand final, and you were part of the Star Team of this tournament.

It was a great honor for me, because the Spengler Cup is the best and most prestigious friendly tournament in the world. It made me feel good that someone liked my game and I’m glad I was able to find myself in such a good group.

During the last edition, you faced the Canadian team twice. Both in the group match and in the final match, your opponents prevailed. You lost 4-1 to them in the opener and scored an honorable goal.

My big dream was to play against Canada one day. The year before we missed them and in the next Spengler Cup we could play with them twice. The goal of such a match will remain in my memory for the rest of my life!

Aside from the goal scored against Canada, is there a game from these two tournaments in Davos that sticks in your memory?

This first edition ended quickly for us, as we were eliminated from the competition in the quarter-finals, after having played only three games. In the next of those games we had more and qualified for the final. In the quarter-finals, our rival was a team from Ufa playing in the KHL league. We won this match 3-2 and I had two assists, including the decisive goal in extra time. In the semi-final, also after extra time, we beat the Swiss team Ambri-Piotta under whose colors Wojtek Wolski made an appearance. In the final we lost to Canada 4-0, but we must not forget that in Davos we played weakened by the lack of several players. Despite this loss, qualifying for the Grand Final was a great success for us.

Shortly after, your paths with Wojtek Wolski crossed again, this time in Třinec.

Yes, it’s true. Shortly after the tournament ended, Wojtek signed a contract to play for our club until the end of the season. Unfortunately, his adventure at Ocelari didn’t last too long, as due to the coronavirus the play-off competition was canceled in the Czech Republic and the season ended earlier than expected.

The Spengler Cup is not only matches, it is also the whole envelope around this tournament. It is played between Christmas and the New Year. During these six days, not only the city, but also the whole neighborhood experiences this event.

The tradition of this tournament is the presence of families during the competition in Davos. During the first tournament I was with my wife and daughter, and the following year our son was born and the children stayed in Třinec under the care of their parents and in-laws, and I was able to spend this time with my wife. In these two editions, we played almost all the matches late at night, so we had free time during the day, so there was a possibility to go to the mountains, toboggan or possibly ski. It was such an atypical preparation for the game for us. Davos is a beautiful city located in the mountains. During the tournament, special areas with various attractions for fans were prepared, open around the clock. It was nice to be part of all this. We know that our matches have been watched virtually all over the world.


Yes. During the tournament, many players sent us pictures of our matches in Europe or abroad. It was Radek Faksa of the Dallas Stars, Ondrej Palat of Tampa Bay Lighting or David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins. Anyway, photos or messages about our performances have also been sent to us by players playing in Europe, including colleagues from Poland. It was nice and confirmed that this tournament is broadcast practically all over the world. Anyway, Wayne Gretzky was supposed to be the coach of Canada’s national team in the Spengler Cup, but for family reasons he couldn’t come to Davos.

Do you have any memories related to this tournament?

There really are a lot of them, but one thing that stuck in my memory is related to acclimatization. The first game was always the worst for me. Davos is over 1,500 meters above sea level and the lungs were not “prepared” to play at such altitudes. The air is more rarefied and the atmospheric pressure is lower. At first, I found it difficult to breathe normally and my body got tired much faster. Fortunately, it was getting better every day.

This year, Ocelari Trzyniec will not be among the participants of the Spengler Cup. Who are you going to encourage?

The hosts, i.e. HC Davos. Matej Stransky, who played for Třinec for two years, plays there. Anyway, we played against Davos this season in the Champions League group stage. In Switzerland we lost and at home we won against them 4:3.

How are you spending the holidays this year?

This time we are going to visit our in-laws in Polkowice, and only for two days. On December 22 we play a derby game against Vitkovice, and on December 25 we have to go back to Třinec, because the next day we have a game against Brno. It won’t be too long, but the most important thing is that we can spend this little time with our family.

The broadcasting program of the 94th edition of the Spengler Cup:

Monday (December 26):

HC Ambri-Piotta vs Orebro HK live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport.

Sparta Praga vs Team Canada live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Tuesday (December 27):

IFK Helsinki vs loser of the match HC Ambri-Piotta – Orebro live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

HC Davos vs the loser of the game Sparta Praga – Team Canada live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Wednesday (December 28):

Won the match HC Ambri-Piotta – Orebro HK vs IFK Helsinki live at 15:05 on Polsat Sport Extra.

Won the match Sparta Praga – Team Canada vs HC Davos live at 8:10 p.m. on Polsat Sport Premium 1.

Thursday (December 29):

Quarter-final live at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport News.

The quarter-finals will be broadcast live at 8:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport Premium 1.

Friday (December 30):

I saw the semi-final at 3:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport News.

II semi-final live at 8:10 p.m. on Polsat Sport Extra.

Saturday (December 31):

Final live at 12:05 p.m. on Polsat Sport.

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Alec Dittman

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