Lost in the all the hoopla over the NHL's new schedule -- as fans passionately debate the games they'd least like to see -- was the fact that the New York Rangers will still open their season in Prague. Which seems rather silly now that Martin Straka and Jaromir Jagr have both left the team, seeing as how their presence attracted Czech sponsors' interest in the first place and how Jagr actually helped broker the deal to bring the Rangers overseas.
But hey, maybe Michal Rozsival and Petr Prucha have massive "High School Musical"-like fan followings over there. Because if they don't -- and you know saying this makes us more uncomfortable than a trip to the dentist's chair in the middle of the Dept. of Motor Vehicles -- then Larry Brooks was right. (Get back down there, bile.)
There's a story in the latest edition of Czech Business Weekly, that covers Jagr's signing with Avangard Omsk of the new KHL, in which opening-night game promoter Äeská sportovní reacts to losing its star attraction for the NHL Premiere in Prague. Indeed, the company's official page for the game still lists "the best domestic ice-hockey player of all times Jaromír Jágr" as a main draw.
Without Jagr in the game, a company spokesman tells Czech Business that fan refunds are a possibility:
Indeed, the two games between New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning were sold out within hours after the tickets were put in sale last spring. Jagr's departure caused a blow to Äeská sportovní. Karel Tejkal, spokesman of Äeská sportovní, admitted that some people could return their tickets. "However, we don't expect that more than a few dozen tickets will be returned," he said.
Those few dozen fans must be out of their minds to give up the chance to see Czech hockey legend Filip Kuba play for the Tampa Bay Lightning ...
As much as Czech hockey fans are going to miss Jagr in 2008, he could more than make up for it in 2010 in Vancouver. Czech Business Weekly reports that new national team coach Vladimír Ruzicka could be the right guy who can convince star players like Jagr to play for their homeland in the Winter Olympics. Jagr himself teased about potentially playing in the 2010 Games during his NHL exit interviews.
We're all for Jagr playing in the Olympics ... on one condition: He must re-grow the playoff flavor-savor. This cannot be negotiated.