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

He will most likely never resume his playing career, yet Jakub Voráček remains an active figure in hockey and will promote the Winter Hockey Games in Prague on Letná as an ambassador. There, he has the task of bringing world stars who will present themselves in the final exhibition, and he is already attracting big names. In addition to them, the former national team captain also spoke about his relationship with football, his experiences from outdoor matches, the Třinec title and the upcoming World Cup. What will he do next?

Jakub Voracek.

| Photo: Profimedia

What is your role at the Winter Hockey Games on Letná?
Together with Patrik Eliáš and Sláva Lener, we are the ambassadors of this event and we are looking for players for the match of legends. We are also here for promotion, commercials, TV spots and so on. It will be an excellent event, sports are growing in the Czech Republic – both football and hockey. It’s just good, it’s wonderful to see. Football dug up direct promotion to the Champions League thanks to Pilsen’s draw, it has success in European cups and it’s only good how many people go to the Czech league for football and hockey. I’m glad people are eating it up.

When you mention football, I have to ask you – what kind of fan are you? Do you follow FORTUNA:LIGA?
Yeah, I watch a lot of football. My son is now totally crazy about Sparta. I do not know what went wrong. When Czech teams play in Europe, I support every Czech team. I’ve been more of a fan than a Spartan since I was a child, but not so die-hard that if someone is a Sparta fan, I can’t talk to them. I’m a football fan as such, I’m glad the sport is growing overall. The superstructure will definitely be amazing and I will definitely go to some football.

So you go to both Sparta and Slavia?
Certainly. I was at both Liverpool and AC Milan. My little one and I went to watch Leverkusen when they beat Bremen. He’s starting to like sports now and that’s a motivation for me. Even though he saw me in Columbus, he still didn’t understand. I’d like him to see me on the ice once, now that he’s got his wits about him. But the chance is minimal.

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

Do you already have an idea where your son will go? Will he become a hockey player or a football player?
I have no idea at all. Most parents will say let the child choose, but an awful lot of parents put a lot of pressure on their children to play sports. If he enjoys it and it makes him happy, then let him do it. But to stand over him and boo him for not scoring a goal or recording, I’m definitely not going to do that.

You mentioned that you want to bring names like Eric Lindros, Scott Hartnell or Wayne Simmonds to the match of legends in Letna. Do you only hunt in Philadelphia?
Philadelphia had a line in the 90s called the Legion of Doom that was great. Hopefully we’ll see it through to a successful conclusion, but I can think of a lot of names. We still have to reconcile it due to the number with Patrik and Sláva. It will definitely work out somehow and I believe it will be a great experience for the fans.

So you just pick up the phone and call Eric Lindros to fly over?
Of course I have to ask him, I won’t tell him. Overall, however, we also see at the World Championships that Prague can be a great experience for them. They are already in their fifties, they still somehow keep in shape and play some matches. I think that if they only have a little power, they will be happy to come.

Didn’t you have Lindros and his Legion of Doom as a role model in your youth?
Of course I remember Nagano, I was eight years old when Lindros hit Hasan’s stick in the semi-finals. I have such memories. Then in Philadelphia there was much more contact. He is one of the best hockey players in history, although of course he was limited by injuries. He’s in the hall of fame, that says it all. The more names like that, the better it will be for the fans. I am glad that I have connected with them at such a level during my career that I am not afraid to reach out to them.

Jakub Voracek

Twelve concussions and enough? Voráček quits hockey. It’s 99 percent, he says

Prague attracts so much also because players who have experienced it talk about it World Championship in the Czech Republic?
Of course, Prague offers more attractions than just a match. We all probably know what we’re talking about. Beer at Staromák is also an attraction. It will be a great experience for the boys, even before Christmas, when it has its magic. So I didn’t experience it that many times, but now I experience it more.

On the contrary, you played a lot with Hartnell and Simmonds. Is it a big attraction to have a beer with them and reminisce?
Certainly. I think he’s looking forward to it too. We played an awful lot of years together, an awful lot of matches. Wayne Simmonds and I were roommates for three or four years in Philly, so we have a really special relationship. Wayne has retired now, Hartsy hasn’t been playing for a while, so I’ll definitely be happy to see them and have a chat over a beer.

How are you looking forward to the home World Cup?
Power. The whole republic will live by it. Let’s hope the boys do well and play some great hockey. The preparation is going well so far, even if the opponents are weaker. When I look at it, we play really good hockey, where they skate a lot and don’t give their opponents a lot of time. That’s important. No medals were won in Bratislava in 2019, but the game was an experience for the fans. People enjoyed it and said hats off to each other, it was nice and it was an experience. This will hopefully follow in Prague as well.

The Czech Republic has been living the final series for the last few days. What do you think about the fifth Třinec title in a row?
It is not even possible to describe in words what Třinec demonstrated. When I imagine that they were less than a second away from being eliminated, their first two runners were gone, Martin Růžička had a torn shoulder, Andrej Nestrašil had a torn shoulder… How can they pull themselves together and find a way to victory despite all the struggles that happened to them, and defeat like this downtrodden Pardubice and downtrodden Sparta… You can see the strength of the collective and how things are going there. Many teams can take an example from how they do it in Třinec. Every time I think about it, I get goosebumps at what they managed to accomplish. It is something incredible and unprecedented in Czech sport.

Can any of the finalists still have the strength to play at the World Cup?
I think so. Those players are trained. It seems to me that Voženielek is never tired, the same Lukáš Sedlák. These two probably have the best chance at the jet championship. The allure of a home championship will overcome all fatigue. We’ll see how the coaches put together the squad, but I’m really looking forward to it.

What are you planning? What will you do next if you don’t return to hockey?
That is a good question. I tried coaching, I enjoyed it, but it takes an awful lot of time. I don’t like to do things half throttle. I will definitely not be part of any coaching staff from next year. Nowhere. We’ll see what happens in four or five years. Coaching is specific in that it needs time, and unfortunately I don’t have the time at the moment.

So the cooperation with Kladno is not continuing?
No, it ends there. I’m glad we saved ourselves and it’s time to look ahead and do something else for a while.

So just a TV expert for now?
For now, I will tell people my thoughts and see how it catches on.

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