23 years ago, Washington Capitals general manager David Poile drafted Slovakian winger Peter Bondra 156th overall in the 1990 NHL Draft. We remember what happened next: Bondra jumped into the Capitals line-up the next season, quickly becoming the franchise’s most prolific goal-scorer and holder of every major Caps record (until that Alex Ovechkin guy showed up). Bondra led the Caps to their only Stanley Cup Finals appearance in 1997-98.
The earliest photo I’ve seen of Bonzai is his 1990-91 rookie card from Upper Deck. But over the weekend, Sports.ru’s old school hockey blog That Hockey Happened filled in the gaps, publishing this photo of Bondra, wearing number 18 while playing for TJ VSŽ Košice of the Czechoslovak First Ice Hockey League. In the photo, a very young Bondra, who played for Košice from 1986 to 1990, sits with his team on the bench, his full cage helmet resting beside him. Bondra’s light blue jersey, looking more like a beach towel than a pro uniform, flows over his black and white hockey pants and yellowed socks. Bondra was somewhere between 18 and 21 years old.
This is a gem, Sports.ru. Next, please post a photo of Dmitri Khristich teething.
Additional reporting by Fedor Fedin.