Byl pozdní večer – první máj –
večerní máj – byl hokeje čas.
Fanoušků zval ku ledu hlas,
kde velký se konal turnaj.
Je pozdní večer první máj –
večerní máj – je hokeje čas.
Zve k ledu hrám fanoušků hlas:
„Jaromíře! Jaromíře!! Jaromíře!!!“
In my last entry I wrote about what such a small country as the Czech Republic has to offer as far as literature is concerned. However, I would not like the readers to be misled into thinking that it is the only field in which the Czechs are the best. My entry today will be about something completely different.
The International World Championship in Hockey has been going on since 1st May. This year the host of the event is the Czech Republic, namely Prague and Ostrava. The Dutch reader may need some important explanation, as I am not writing about field hockey, in which the Oranje are absolute leaders, but ice-hockey.
As a young person, whenever I went to Slovakia, I noticed that in almost every small average town there were two buildings – the town hall and the ice rink. Maybe I should not have been so surprised because I come from Nowy Targ, where we also have such a place and our team was even the best in the league for many years in the past. But in Poland we have only a few ice rinks and in the country south of us there are thousands of them!
Ice hockey is by far a very prestigious sport as it is one of the few Olympic disciplines as far as team sports are concerned. The main difference between football and ice hockey is the fact that people who play the latter are real men, who are not afraid of real clashes and their second job is not being actors. As we all know, this is the case with footballers. The earnings are also different. Hockey players do net get as much money as football players. To me, hockey is more spectacular because of its pace.
History has proven more than once that sports results achieved on the world scale can help raise the authority of the country. This is why it will not be a surprise if I write that during Cold War the US and USSR did not limit their competition only to sports arenas. The best proof of that are serious sports challenges and also the smaller ones, passive, such as chess and the victory of Bobby Fisher over a Russian grand master Boris Spassky.
The similar situation happened with almost every country which was under the influence of the Soviet invader. The Hungarians lived on water polo and what about the Czechs?
So, what are the Czechs to say about it? Well, obviously they could only dream about outstanding results in chess or water polo, however, they did have their dark horse – ice hockey. Even though they did not have to prove anything to the Americans, they had much to do so to their Eastern liberators. The match in 1969 became immortal when during the World Championship in Stockholm the Czechs won with the USSR 2:0.
In every political aspect every such a victory was priceless. However, the biggest success was achieved by the Czech in Nagano, during the Winter Olympics, when they fought against USSR successors and won gold, beating Russia in the final 4:3. Undoubtedly, there rose to fame another distinguished representative of the Hašek’s family – Dominik. Apparently, this surname obliges one to stir up some troubles in the world!
One wears patriotism in one’s heart or on one‘s t-shirt…
The captain of the Czech team in this year’s Championship is one of the veterans of the Czech hockey, playing with number 68 – Mr. Jaromír Jágr. What lies behind number 68? Many wags say that it has to do with his retirement age, others write jokingly that supposedly 69 had already been taken. However, it is neither April Fool’s Day nor a situation which makes people laugh so I want to deny the gossip. Because Jagermeister, as his fans call him, may really think about his retirement seriously, but for sure not as a 68- but 43-year-old man.
What, then, lies behind number 68?
Jágr plays with this number to commemorate the events of Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia in 1968. During the invasion of Soviet troops many Czechs lost their lives or freedom. Those who did not agree with the „normalization“ had to emigrate. In the same year Jágr’s grandfather died in prison. He was arrested by the Soviet army for disagreeing to work on a farm for free.
Jagermeister is the most effective European player in the elite NHL games, he stands on the same level of Czech brands in the world as Budweiser beer company or Škoda. So far, during this year’s Championship he is the best player of the Czech Lions. On Thursday the Czechs will play in the semi-final and who knows, maybe even now their opponent will be this famous Russia again.
Small info for the fans in Amsterdam:
Česko-slovenský bar in Amsterdam is the only place which gathers Moravian people, the Czechs, Slovaks, Subcarpathian Rusyns, Silesians and even Poles! As there are no boundaries abroad between this or other Slavdom. Thus, I would like to invite all fans of: – hockey, – golden tasty beer , – zeleňačky, – utopenců, – nakládaného hermelínu or – the Czech language itself to come at Amstel!
Tak zatím ahoj!