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Eliáš is to bring legends to Prague. He wants Brodeur on the bullpen

Despite summer temperatures outside, the organizers of the Winter Hockey Games are already luring fans to an open-air hockey program in Letná in Prague. In addition to the competitive matches of the Extraliga, the Slovak top flight and the German DEL, spectators can also look forward to the battle of Czech and world legends. Jakub Voráček and Patrik Eliáš also take care of the composition of the teams. The latter arranged for Robert Holík or Jason Arnott, but he also has other no less famous names in his sights. However, his longtime partner Martin Brodeur will not introduce himself as a player.

Přerov hockey players against HC Slavia Prague (4:1). Patrick Elias

| Photo: Deník/Jan Pořízek

How long did you think about when you got the offer to become an ambassador for the Winter Hockey Games?
Not for a long time. These are exceptional events. We needed to meet a few times and discuss the right plan, what it entails and so on. I am glad that the extra league is involved, and even the university league, which is attractive to the younger generation. It’s good that they will be a part of it. I’m glad Voras and I got this offer. I believe that we will make hockey attractive for fans.

What is the cooperation with Jakub Voracek?
He has to be reminded when what is. But so far it has always arrived..

Great legends, which many collected on cards, are to come to Prague…
It is so. We belong to the generation for which these are really sonorous names. They meant something to us, they achieved something in the hockey world. I believe that also for Czech fans. That they will find their way to Letná and that they will be interested in coming to see it. Especially in this environment. Prague in the run-up to Christmas is beautiful.


This is where outdoor hockey was to be played during the Winter Hockey Games.  The grandstands and the ice surface were built in Špindlerův Mlýn in the Svatý Petr area.

Outdoor hockey. A stadium for 17,000 people will be built in Letná in Prague

Among others, Jason Arnott is scheduled to arrive. How is such participation arranged?
We communicated with each other about three or four months ago, because he invited me to his event, which he had in his hometown not far from Toronto, where his jersey was displayed. Unfortunately, I was away at the time, so I couldn’t come. But on that occasion I mentioned to him that something might happen in Prague. He said to let him know then. He automatically confirmed it immediately. He and Robert Holík were actually the first to confirm my participation.

How is it currently with Robert Holík?
He lives in America, now I don’t know if in Wyoming or Utah, I’m not sure. He likes to go to the Czech Republic. He is going here now in May. He’s one of the guys I’m still in touch with, we call each other. For me, he is a hockey legend, but legends are the entire Holík clan. I’m glad he accepted it.

Even the legendary goalkeeper of New Jersey will not arrive Martin Brodeur?
I contacted Marty if he was going to be at the World Cup so we could discuss it in person. He will get an invitation from me, but the complication for him is that he is busy with work, working in the management of the New Jersey team. I don’t know how the guys can go away for four or five days during the season. Another problem is that he doesn’t go to the gate anymore. It would be great if we could have him here as a person who can throw in honor balls. That would be fantastic. But because we want to maintain the quality of hockey, we talked with Kuba about the fact that we want to invite guys who are capable of playing at a certain level. We have to make it interesting not only with names, but also to look at.

Jakub Voráček jokingly said that it would be Philadelphia versus New Jersey. Do you also reach out to other players?
I have two more names that I will keep to myself for now. I played with one, not the other. But both played in the NHL and are Stanley Cup winners. Both reside in Europe. We have other players that we will dose. And that’s also because we were still finalizing the whole event and we didn’t want to contact the guys saying that we’d have to say no to them in a fortnight saying that it’s going down. Now it’s gotten to the point where we’re counting on it and we can push the guys and reach out to them more.

Have these guys been to Prague or the Czech Republic even just to visit you?
Jason (Arnott) didn’t. The last time I saw him was about three years ago. But we have communicated three times in the last two months. Scott Niedermayer was here. Scotty Gomez spent some time in Prague two years ago. So some do, some don’t. So that might be an attraction for them.

Hockey with a view of the Castle

Prague is said to be an attraction for many players during the championship. Does it also apply to such an exhibition?
I hope so. I am looking forward to the championship, because the teams will be really good. It will be a great comparison. It will be attractive hockey for us fans. I believe it will be the same in December. Advent markets will also be at that time. We will hope that the atmosphere will add to it.

And how will it be with the Czech selection?
That won’t be a problem. When we watched exhibitions in the past, the boys were happy to come. I believe it will be exceptional in the open air with a view of the Castle. They can spend a long weekend in Prague. It is attractive not only for guys from abroad, but also for Czech ones. We will communicate with Sláva (Lener) about it. We will want to reach out to players who have done a lot for our country in terms of hockey, who are interesting and will want to be here. I believe that there will not be few of them.


Jakub Voracek.

Voráček invites Hartnell and Lindros to Prague. Beer at Staromák is an attraction, he says

You yourself have already experienced pod matches open sky. Do you have any inspiration, what could be improved?
When we played at Yankee Stadium, we were delayed there because of the light and played about three hours late. It was more than twenty degrees below zero, so very cold for the spectators and fans. That’s all we have to talk about for it to be here. I don’t believe it will be this cold, but you never know. It’s not like that anymore for players. Fans also need to have a plan B.

On the other hand, heat or rain are also possible, which would not be good for ice either.
Everyone involved is doing everything to make it here in the best quality and with all the facilities that are common in the world. When we communicated with the people who will build it here, they said that they can keep the ice even if it is plus 20 degrees outside. If it’s snowing, we’ll have a couple of guys or pretty girls riding around with shovels. But that’s part of it all. It’s a show. Cuba also experienced different weather. And it always happened. They are memories that no one will forget.

The World Cup is just around the corner. How do you like the game of the national team?
Is attractive. Sometimes they bet on typologically different players. That is right. Hockey is evolving. We’ll see how they stack it up at the championships. It looks like there will be real quality in all the teams. But it’s always about game play. They have a really nice one and the fans love it. But I am also looking forward to the tournament in Brno. I’m curious. Czech fans must be happy because they will see quality hockey and great hockey players.

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