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Prague: ARTĚL Style

Expert recommendations and insider tips for first-time visitors and locals alike from ARTĚL’s founder, Karen Feldman, who has lived in Prague since 1994. Click on the links below for detailed reviews – from Feldman’s own unique perspective – of all the best that Prague has to offer...

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Interviews

Czech Ice Hockey

Published on January 23th, 2014 in Interviews

  • pond hockey, 1972 (Jiří Fiala is second from left)

  • Jiří Fiala, after a successful day of mushroom-picking at his chata, c. 1980

  • HC Sparta's first real hockey jerseys, red jerseys with white "S" - c.1934 (photo courtesy of www.hcsparta.cz)

  • Sparta vs Pardubice, 1977 (photo courtesy of http://110.hcsparta.cz)

Of the two national pastimes in the Czech Republic – mushroom picking and hockey – the latter is unquestionably the more riveting; so taking in a local game with Czech fans in their element could be great fun.

 

Who Better to Ask About Czech Hockey than a Former Player?

Jiří Fiala was interviewed in 2007 for the first edition of this book. Sadly he passed away in 2008, but his interview remains both relevant and interesting, so I have decided to reprint it here...

 

Jiří Fiala
age: 49
team: HC Slavia, 1974–1977
position: Defense
hobby: Mushroom-picking

  

 

KF: What makes Czech hockey different from North America’s NHL?

Jiří: The Czech leagues play excellent hockey, but they’re not at the same level of play as the NHL. There’s more emphasis on passing, positioning and setting up plays to score than in the NHL, where such fancy play will often be stopped short by thundering body checks. Czech hockey is played on an international-size rink – the kind used throughout Europe – that’s wider and longer than an NHL ice rink, and as a result, NHL hockey is much faster. Czech hockey leagues earn much more money from sponsorship than ticket sales or TV broadcasts, so the players’ uniforms, the ice surface, the boards surrounding the ice, and even the team names often have sponsor’s names and logos plastered all over them – but the players’ salary is peanuts compared to what the NHL pays.

 

KF: Sports teams always have personalities. How would you describe HC Slavia versus HC Sparta? 

Jiří: Under communism, HC Sparta was owned by one of the biggest companies in the country, and this allowed the team to have far greater benefits, including salary, travel, and even better uniforms. However, they also had a lot more pressure on them due to this management structure. As a result, in general, I would describe the players as tougher. HC Slavia, during this period, was a club team; the players played as a hobby, just for the love of the game. As a result, the team was much more laid-back. There was no management and no money. Today, I’m certain it’s very different, as they are now owned by a large company, just like HC Sparta is.


KF: Crazy fans always make a game much more fun. Which Prague team has the most intense fans?

Jiří: HC Sparta, no question!

 

KF: What’s your favorite Prague arena to see a game at?

Jiří: O2 Arena. This was where the Hockey World Championship was played in 2004. In fact, it was built for the occasion, and it’s far more deluxe than all of the other local arenas.

 

KF: What is your favorite team in the Czech Republic and why?  

Jiří: HC Slavia, silly! Gotta stay loyal to my team.

 

 

HC Slavia

02 Arena
Českomoravská 2345/17, Prague 9, Libeň
www.hc-slavia.cz
tel 266 121 122
tickets 100–260 CZK
metro Českomoravská
travel time 10–15 min.
 

 

HC Sparta

TIP Sport Arena
Za elektrárnou 419/1, Prague 7, Bubeneč
www.hcsparta.cz
tel 266 727 443
tickets 115–195 CZK
metro Nádraží Holešovice
tram 5, 12, 14, 15, 17 to Výstaviště
travel time 15–20 min.
 

 

 

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