That picture was taken by me the day after Sykora’s 1000th game was played (and lost) in Long Island. He literally apologized to me for losing because the Czechs are nothing but “Team 1st – Player 2nd” and it’s just mind-boggling to me. And yes, I drove past New Jersey’s version of the Mason Dixon line (RT 78 and below) in order to get talk to Petr Sykora. Hell, who are we kidding? I would drive into Northern Kentucky — I mean, PA if he was there.
Petr Sykora had a group of about 20 friends and family members at Nassau Coliseum today to see him play in his 1,000th NHL regular season game. He would have preferred a better result, but that didn’t completely spoil the milestone for him.
“It was disappointing the way it ended up,” he said. “I still really enjoyed the game, but obviously I was disappointed with the result.” — Fire & Ice
And then the next game (Tuesdays) they beat the Rangers 4-1 thanks to Sykora hitting a puck off Clarkson’s “butt” (as he said in the post-game interview quite a few times) and fights by Cam “ClickClick” Janssen and Ryan “I am NOT Jeff” Carter also helped. And David Clarkson not morphing into Cam Janssen like the last Devils/Rangers game helped a bunch too.
And over there in Northern Kentucky, the Flyers played the Red Wings and the only Czech I approve of on the Flyers was hurt something terrible:
These shots are brutal. Hockey does have its R-rated moments, and this body-check was one of them.
Seeing Voracek perhaps convulsing on the ice, or at least shaking uncontrollably in the wake of the hit and apparently trying to grasp any sense of perception, before finally getting to his knees and then standing with some help, was not for the faint of heart.
A teammate of Voracek’s, Danny Briere, said simply, “I wanted to vomit.”
And it was good to see Vorcek walk back toward the dressing room, unattended. And it is hoped his injuries are not severe, and that he was not concussed.
But Kronwall hit Briere in much the same way at Joe Louis Arena on Feb. 12, in a nationally-televised game, and the Red Wings defenseman has at least a dozen and a half similar hits to his credit, throughout his career.
They arrive with such frequency, in fact, that they have yielded a new verb: Kronwalled. — DetroitNews.com
Kromwall also knocked (Czech) Marty Havlat out in 2009, so, obviously, Sweden apparently hates the Czechs (and French-Canadians).
Also, this happened last Friday against Zubrus’ old team the Capitals:
Dainius Zubrus scored the goal of the game and also had the celebration of the night. Zubrus dove to put home his own rebound to increase the Devils’ lead to 3-0 with 1:41 left in the first period and then when his momentum carried him forward, did a somersault in the right corner and jumped to his feet in one continuous move.
“I need to tone it down,” said Zubrus, who snapped an 11-game goal drought. “I got overexcited. I got carried way. It’s been a while.”
Zubrus was clearly embarrassed by his tumble, but it appeared to just happen.
“I had some momentum and I fell down that way,” he said. “I don’t know. Honestly, you just don’t think. You get carried away.”
When asked if he had ever done a somersault on the ice before, Zubrus said, “Probably as a kid. I don’t know. Can we talk about something else?”
He had clearly already received some ribbing from his teammates.
“I’m sure he will get more, too,” Devils captain Zach Parise said.
“I have to see it on video, but that was embarrassing,” Parise said laughing. “It was a really nice goal, him diving through the air. I don’t think the somersault was necessary.”
Zubrus said, “Guys were like, ‘Make sure you don’t break your neck next time you do that.” — Fire & Ice
And after all those moments of “hockey is a hard sport because people get hurt or COULD get hurt (but instead are probably just being teased to death about it), have an article about hockey being a wonderful thing to a kid.
For Martin Erat, home is where the hockey is.
At least that’s how it’s been for a little more than half his life. The veteran Nashville Predators forward, who turned 30 prior to this season, saw the NHL as his ultimate destination early and left behind first his family and later his country to try to get there.
“My parents got divorced when I was 10 years old, and I left my house when I was 14,” said Erat, who grew up in the former Czechoslovakia. “When I was little, my dream was to play in the NHL. I was lucky enough and happy to make it to the NHL. … I tried to learn the hard way, but it worked out for me.”
A seventh-round draft pick in 1999, he clearly has made a home for himself with the Predators. Already, he ranks near the top of the franchise’s career leaders in most offensive statistics as well as games played, and his current contract is slated to keep him with the franchise through 2014-15.
A little more than a week ago he celebrated the birth of his first child, a son, with a goal and an assist in a victory over San Jose the following day.
“It doesn’t seem that long for me,” he said. “It’s kind of different. So many change teams every year or every second year. For me, I was fortunate to be able to stay in one organization for that long.”
The stability has been somewhat unusual given that he bounced from city to city and eventually country to country in pursuit of a professional hockey career.
He was born in the summer of 1981 in Trebic, Czechoslovakia. It was a town of fewer than 50,000 near the center of what is now the Czech Republic. Because of the changes that came to his country, the timing of his birth would turn out to be critical to the course his life took.
The younger of two boys, Erat found little other than athletics to entertain himself in Trebic.
“There was nothing else there, just soccer and hockey,” he said. “In the summertime we played soccer, and in the winter we played hockey. I’m from a small city, and that’s how it was.
“I stayed with the hockey and never looked back.”
Through Tuesday’s loss at Carolina, Erat was Nashville’s leading scorer and was on pace to produce at least 50 points for the fifth time in six seasons. He also was within reach of his fourth 20-goal season.
He has, throughout his NHL career, been a model of consistency. Since 2003-04, he never has finished with fewer than 49 points or more than 57. That suggests the lessons he learned along the way have paid off for him.
“He’s a great skater, and he’s strong on the puck, and he always puts himself in position to make great plays,” center and linemate Mike Fisher said. “He can control the game, and he’s been really good and consistent competing every night.
“Sometimes he doesn’t get enough credit. He’s kind of a little bit of an unsung hero.”
And in the last bit of Sykora news:
Before the game Petr Sykora received an NHL milestone award, a Tiffany crystal, for playing in his 1,00th game on Sunday. Patrik Elias gave him a watch as a gift from his teammates while owner Jeff Vanderbeek presented Sykora with a ‘1000’ jersey and a commemorative painting.
“I can’t believe how young I look after 1,000 games,” Sykora joked afterwards.
Is he ready for the next 1,000?
“Definitely not,” he said. “I’m not looking forward to the next 1,000. I’m just looking to finishing the season, have a good finish, a run in the playoffs and hopefully come back next season.”
*** Subject line is brought to you by the fact that the “I just called to say hellllo!” song has been stuck in my head all season since they play it during pre-skate now. And Ahoj is Hello in Czech (Ahoj-Ahoj if you want to be Mr. Burns /terrible joke only two people will get)