Sunday, April 8, 2012

Two Czech greats face crossroads

This April is an exciting month in Czech hockey, with the Extraliga finals, the U18 World Championships and, later, the Kajot Cup. And in this exciting month, Brno, the republic's "second city", is the centre of its hockey universe.

Fortunately, I will be spending a great deal of this month in Brno covering these events, particularly the U18 tournament, for which I am editing content in the official program, the English version of the website, Twitter, and during the tournament providing online play-by-play and game reports. Unfortunately, that leaves me little time to keep Czech Hockey Report as up-to-date as I would like,  but I will try my best to direct readers to the best sources of information in Czech hockey.

One of those sources is Velvet Hockey, created by fellow EuroHockey writer Jon Rowson. Today, he has written an article, entitled "The end of the road for two Czech greats?", about Petr Nedvěd and Martin Straka, who were both recently eliminated with their teams in the Extraliga semifinals. Respectively 40 and 38 years old, the two are both reportedly considering retirement.

For Nedvěd, for whom my memory goes back to when he was a 17-year-old Seattle Thunderbird, this is not the first time he has considered retirement. Last year, many will remember, he made similar considerations after his team was eliminated in the quarterfinals in heartbreaking fashion.

Though it seems likely we may see Nedvěd back for another season, Straka might be finished as a player. Part-owner of the team, the degree to which he has maintained the role of club general manager while playing has been admirable, especially during the messy registration scandal last season. He has shown innovation as a manager, being a pioneer of recruiting North American players into the Extraliga, and one has to think he has a lengthy career ahead of him in the front office.

Hopefully, as the futures of these two greats becomes clear, it will be the off-season and I will have more time to dedicate to their stories.

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