KHL Medveščak Zagreb opened their 2012-13 EBEL season with a pair of outdoor games played in the ancient Roman amphitheatre of Pula, Croatia. They lost 3 - 2 to HDD Olimpija Ljubljana in the first game but beat the Vienna Capitals 4 - 1 in the second.
KHL Medveščak Zagreb were members of the old Yugoslav Hockey League, and won the championship three times. With the breakup of the country and the league, Medveščak dominated the smaller Croatian Ice Hockey League, winning 17 championships. They shifted to the stronger Slovenian League in 2007, and then the Austrian Erste Bank Eishockey Liga in 2009, and this year they have signed with the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League, the strongest league in Europe.
To become competitive they have had to sign a lot of foreigners.
Of the 33 players listed on Medveščak's roster webpage, 16 were born in Canada, 8 in the USA, only 3 in Croatia (one of whom is old enough to say he was born in Yugoslavia), 2 in Slovenia, and 1 each in Slovakia, West Germany, Finland and Denmark. If you count the players with dual citizenship there are 10 Croatians.
The Canadians are:
Barry Brust. From Swan River, Manitoba. Played 11 games for the LA Kings. Last season he was with the Abbotsford Heat of the AHL.
Mathieu Carle. From Gatineau, Québec. Played 3 games for the Habs. Last season he played for Genève-Servette of the Swiss league.
Jonathan Cheechoo. From Moose Factory, Ontario. Has played 501 NHL games, mostly with San Jose, but there was that one season in Ottawa. Last year he was with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL.
Mark Dekanich. North Vancouver, BC. Played one NHL game, for Nashville. Last year he was with the St. John's IceCaps of the AHL.
Kurtis Foster. From Carp, Ontario. Has 405 NHL games with Atlanta, Minnesota, Tampa, Edmonton, Anaheim, New Jersey and Philadelphia. He divided last season between Philly and Tappara Tampere.
Mike Glumac. Niagara Falls, Ontario. 40 NHL games with St. Louis. Played the last three seasons with Adler Mannheim.
Boyd Kane. Swift Current, Saskatchewan. 31 NHL games for Philadelphia and Washington. Played the past four seasons as a Hersey Bear.
Mark Katic. Timmins, Ontario. Played 11 NHL games for the Islanders. Last year he was with Eisbären Berlin.
Alan Letang. Renfrew, Ontario. Has 14 NHL games with Dallas, Calgary and the Islanders. This is his fifth year with Medveščak. He's team captain.
Charles Linglet. Montréal, Québec. 5 NHL games with Edmonton. Divided last season between Lugano and Dynamo Minsk.
Kenny MacAulay. From Baddeck, Nova Scotia. A product of the University of Vermont. This is his fifth season with Medveščak.
Steve Montador. Vancouver, BC. 571 NHL games with Calgary, Florida, Anaheim, Boston, Buffalo and Chicago. Last season: Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.
Andrew Murray. Selkirk, Manitoba. 221 NHL games with Columbus, San Jose and St. Louis. Last season he mainly played for the Peoria Rivermen of the AHL.
Mark Popovic. Stoney Creek, Ontario. 81 NHL games with Anaheim and Atlanta. Played last season with Langnau of the Swiss league.
Geoff Waugh. Winnipeg, Manitoba. Has played for four AHL teams, including the Manitoba Moose. This is his third year with Medveščak.
Brian Willsie. Belmont, Ontario. 381 NHL games with Colorado, Washington and Los Angeles. Played last season with Kloten of the Swiss League.
The head coach is Canadian Mark French, and two of the assistant coaches, Dean Fedorchuk and Don MacLean, are Canadians.
The KHL in the name KHL Medveščak Zagreb is short for Klub hokeja na ledu, meaning ice hockey club, and does not refer to the fact that they now play in the KHL. It's also purely coincidental that the president of the Kontinental Hockey League is named Alexander Medvedev ... or so I believe. Medved means bear in the Slavic languages. KHL Medveščak Zagreb are The Bears.
Medveščak play in the Bobrov Division, which includes clubs from Latvia, Belarus, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, as well as CSKA Moscow and SKA St. Petersburg. In their season opener they beat CSKA Moscow 7 - 1.