Olesz played his first match in the extra league on January 26 for Vítkovice on the ice of Sparta (he helped moderate the 2:4 defeat with an assist on Pavel Selingr’s goal). He was 15 years old. 22 years and almost two months later, on March 17, 2023, on the ice of Pardubice in the opening round of the last playoff (1:5), he played in Olomouc’s jersey for what was probably the last game between hockey professionals. But he didn’t quite want to finish yet.
“You quickly get used to life without daily training, but I still wanted to play at least for fun. I probed where I could still play at some level in the area, and there are guys in Nové Jičín with whom I played in Vítkovice. They told me that there is an excellent group, something like in Olomouc, so I didn’t hesitate,” Olesz describes the trip to the club, where ex-Vítkovice David Květoň, Martin Dudáš and Petr Kuboš are currently working.
“We agreed that I will catch up a bit and when the weather is bad and it gets dark soon, I will come,” jokes Olesz, who played 559 games in the extra league for Vítkovice, Sparta and Olomouc with a balance of 106 goals and 128 assists.
But for the first time in his career, he got to know a slightly different hockey booth. “After the first training session in Nové Jičín, I had an incredible feeling. I slipped, we had a beer to quench our thirst in the cabin. Great,” laughs the bronze medalist from the Junior World Championship (2005 in the Czech Republic) and from the Turin Olympics (2006).
“Those guys come to practice after a full day’s work and they just ride it out the way they’re supposed to. That amazes me. They play hockey because they want to. They don’t look for excuses, as I’ve seen with some young guys in the extra league, who still don’t like something,” Olesz lets a glimpse into the amateur hockey locker room, where in the past, for example, Petr Nedvěd (1997/1998) and Nové Jičín native Rostislav Klesla ( 2004/2005).
Olesz is the third player who played in the NHL and then also for Nový Jičín. “I went to see Petr Nedvěd when Nový Jičín played in Poruba. I also have his signature,” boasted Olesz, whose arrival the club announced as the return of the Devil to the Devils.
The club from Nové Jičín has a Pekelník in its emblem, modeled after the New Jersey Devils, where Olesz ended his overseas mission in the 2013/2014 season after 365 games in the NHL. “It amused me. Everyone who is involved in hockey knows what Nové Jičín is called. I’m the first to play in both New Jerseys,” recalls Olesz, who experienced his best NHL season in his first club in Florida (2005 to 2011). After that, the seventh pick of the 2004 draft moved to Chicago (2011/2012) and then to the Devils, where the native of Bílovec played only ten games.
“It might seem that things didn’t go well in New Jersey, but I don’t see it that way. The main reason why I went there was Jaromír Jágr, with whom I wanted to play in the same team. I succeeded, I was satisfied, even though it was so short,” recalls the author of 134 points (57+77) in the NHL.
“The way I talk about my time with the Devils now is that Jarda didn’t score goals and they sent me away because of that,” laughs Olesz. “I’m not dealing with it today. I played with the legend of legends, with Patrik Eliáš, Marko Židlický. Who can say,” recalls famous names from New Jersey history.
He will soon start writing another devilish hockey chapter in Nové Jičín. For the first match in the 2nd league, the two-time extra league medalist with Vítkovice should start on Saturday, November 11 at home against Hodonín. “Maybe I’ll make it to the match in Opava. I do not know yet. So far, I haven’t been on the ice for a long time and I need to get into it a bit,” Olesz doesn’t want to gamble with his name and disappoint the fans who come to watch him especially in the winter.
“I took a long break, let’s go step by step. It is the second league, but it is still hockey and a competition in which quality hockey players play. And I’ve never been a playmaker, we’re not going to lie. It’s about skating, and those young guys fly terribly. Even if I stick to what David Kvétoň told me, let’s play it, let’s not weigh one hundred and twenty kilos, but only one hundred and ten, it won’t be easy,” admits Olesz.
And he admits that there may come a time when he says he’s had enough of hockey. “We have agreed on something and I will not cough on it. But I’m not in top shape and I have other activities, my family, which I now want to focus on more. And if it just doesn’t work out, I quit. I’m not going to Nové Jičín as someone that others should sit on their ass,” emphasizes Olesz. “Even though I hope to have some respect, maybe someone won’t hit me in the first match,” he adds with a smile.
Less than a month ago, the pupil of Porub hockey celebrated his thirty-eighth birthday, but he has not yet spoken the words about the end of his career. And he doesn’t even plan to yet. “I wouldn’t call it the end. Maybe I’ll show up somewhere in the playoffs. And maybe not. We agreed at home that we want to spend Christmas together without hockey for the first time, and I’m really looking forward to not having to go to the game on December 26,” explains the father of an eleven-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter, another reason why he did not join a club from the first league .