For all these factors, Plekanec was in the crosshairs of the national team management since the summer. There was a possibility that he would help towards the IIHF World Championship, which will be held in May in Prague and Ostrava, as a consultant.
“We knew that it would be a bit more complicated for him as a player. That’s why we had prepared the option that he would be in the role of a consultant, he would not travel to Karjala with us and he would prepare at the Kladno club. We agreed on everything and were ready for such form of cooperation,” revealed Rulík.
When Plekanec announced at the weekend that he was ending his playing career due to health reasons, the initial thoughts quickly changed to the idea that he should be given a more important role in the national team.
“His end was like a blow from the blue, I absolutely did not count on it,” admitted Rulík. “Even though I knew he wasn’t playing because of the injury, I thought he was going to come back to the extra league circuit. When that didn’t happen, we asked him if he would work with us as an assistant coach. I have a great gut feeling that he agreed.”
While Plekanec should be an unequivocal asset to the Czech team, the question is what his departure from the position of player will do to the extra-league Kladno. In the squad, in which the club owner Jaromír Jágr is still missing, he was clearly the biggest mover, the leader, leading the whole team as captain from 2020.
During that time, he played 150 games for Jágr’s Knights, collected 140 points (49+91) and was largely responsible for keeping the club with a below-average budget and fan base in the extra league. And this season, despite the fact that Plekanec played only nine games due to injury, he is in 12th place with a six-point lead over the last Mlada Boleslav.
“It seems that Kladno can manage without him now. In October, the Knights scored 15 points in a row, scoring in seven games. They didn’t do that many years ago. No one expected this, such a streak!” wrote former national team coach Vladimír Vůjtek in the newspaper Sport. “For the last few years, Kladno has been waiting at the bottom, and so far it looks like they have bigger ambitions. Even without Plekanka.”
In the summer, the Central Bohemians very skilfully strengthened the squad, which was additionally strengthened by the arrival of local pupil Radek Smoleňák from Hradec Králové in October. But it’s not just about that. The former captain set values in the cabin from which Kladno can benefit even after his departure.
Diligence. Modesty. Toughness. Fight. Responsibility.
Similar to what former leaders Zdeno Chára and Patrice Bergeron did in the Boston Bruins, who built a culture that persists in the team to this day.
The ‘Factor Plekanec’ will also play a role for Kladno. Although his mastermind will already be dealing with weakening, throw-ins or power plays of the midfielder.