Hejduk in the place of the title. Beautiful memories of six Pardubice seasons came back to me


Golden boy. So Ladislav Křížek could sing this song from the production of the Kreyson group to him personally. Milan Hejduk reached three peaks in his hockey career. A gold Olympic medal hung around his neck, he raised the winning trophy in the NHL and the Czech Extraliga above his head. He celebrated the title in the Pardubice jersey in the 2004/2005 season, when he was catapulted home by exclusion from the most prestigious competition in the hockey world. Now, after almost two decades, he reunited with his teammates on the ice. He became an integral part of the team that defended Dynamo’s colors in the exhibition in the Battle of Legends against the veterans of the Czech national team.

Milan Hejduk enjoyed his return to Pardubice.

| Photo: HC Dynamo Pardubice

He is forty seven. Few can boast of loyalty to clubs like him. In his twenty-year professional career, he replaced only two. Pardubice launched him into major hockey and he experienced his greatest fame in Colorado. When they did not want to extend his contract overseas, he preferred to end his career. The NHL’s best scorer in one season, he started his goal scoring machine at the age of seventeen in Hockeytown. It is already clear that not in Detroit but in Pardubice.

“As a young boy, you don’t realize at all what hockey means to the city and the region. People here live a lot of hockey. Pardubice is clearly a hockey town. When I look back on the years spent in Pardubice, we are glad that it was here. Where six thousand people will come to your exhibition,” says Milan Hejduk for Deník.

The battle of legends put a golden stamp on the centenary celebrations of Pardubice hockey

The battle of legends put an end to the celebrations of the centenary of Pardubice hockey. A similar event has not yet taken place in modern history. One half of the fans could go back to their youth just like their loved ones. The second is to see with one’s own eyes the stars who wrote the history of Pardubice, which they only knew from stories or archives.

“I only came for this event. As soon as I heard that the Battle of Legends was taking place and I was invited, I happily nodded. I must say that it was a great event. It was really cool to play with guys we haven’t seen for a long time. It’s been twenty years since I played with them in the same team. Ríša Král, Jirka Malinský, Petr Jančařík. I started with them in the 1993/1994 season. I was about seventeen years old, they were already older players. I have wonderful memories of those early days. I haven’t seen all the boys for a long time, until now in February at the gala evening,” says Hejduk.

And Miláán Hejduk takes to the ice with number 23…

“I got a little nostalgic. Beautiful memories of the seasons I experienced in Pardubice came back to me. I played here for six seasons. People call your name into it. A lot of them came to the arena, I hope they liked it.”

Source: Daily/Zdeněk Zamastil

I didn’t expect such a pace

As an active hockey player who plays two or three times a week, he did not have time to perceive what a phenomenon hockey is in Pardubice. The older a person is, the more he balances.

“The matches went quickly one after the other. As a young boy, you don’t realize it, and actually not even what hockey means to the city and the region. People here live a lot of hockey. Pardubice is clearly a hockey town. When I look back on the years I spent in Pardubice, I’m very happy for them,” admits Milan Hejduk, whose father won the national gold with the then Tesla thirty years before him.

It was originally supposed to be an exhibition. However, the internationals in the national team set an extra-league pace, to say the least.

“The representatives had a younger squad. They skated faster, had better movement. So it was quite challenging. Overall, I try to keep fit. I’m on the ice once a week. In America I go to play pranks with older guys. But definitely not at that pace. Some of the guys on our team don’t go at all, so I felt a little sorry for them. It must have been a pain for them to fall to such a pace,” says the player who was on the ice during Petr Svoboda’s winning shot in the gold medal match in Nagano.

Source: Daily/Zdeněk Zamastil

At the beginning of the third fifteen-minute period, he recalled his shooting skills. He scored a goal to make it 7:5. It is an exaggeration to say that he added hit number 109 for Pardubice. The icing on the cake?

“It doesn’t matter who scores. The main thing is that I could play here and see the boys. After all, this is veteran hockey, in which the result is not the issue,” he claims.

Hejduk was nominated for the Dynamo skills competition, raids. At the age of eighteen, he sent Pardubice all the way to the final of the extra league in this way. This time you won’t get the ending for the frame…

“I wanted to clean it from the lid, and I sent the puck to the third row,” he laughs.

On the other side, his teammate Tomáš Rolinek from the attacking team was catching raids. And he didn’t capitulate. He caught half the game and at times drove his former teammates and now opponents to despair. “Rolas was excellent. Hats off to them for even putting themselves up there. He explained to us that he sometimes goes out to catch, that we don’t have to worry. He was jumping in the goal like Hasan (Dominik Hašek), I was really staring,” Hejduk nods approvingly.

Source: Daily/Zdeněk Zamastil

And what about him, would he ever put on goalie gear?

“When the children were small, we sometimes went to their gate. But nobody would get me there in a match like that. Rather, it’s the other way around. Goalkeepers go to play in the field. For example, like our Haša. They don’t want to catch anymore at their age and Rolas is the exact opposite. As a player, he goes to the goal. This is rarely seen,” shakes the head of the legend, who was missing the first world championship to join the Triple Gold Club.

Milan Hejduk once again played in the same line with Michal Mikeska from the 2004/2005 season. Back then, he put thirty-one goals into the opponents’ nets, and back then they could play each other blindly.

“Not even now. We moved completely differently than we should have. In the defensive third, we flew like crazy, nobody kept their place. But in such matches you go to play hockey and play more offensively. Not much for defense,” reminds Hejduk.

Source: Daily/Zdeněk Zamastil

The year is 2004. In September, it was announced that the launch was being postponed due to the lack of a collective agreement. In other words, the players’ association and the owners of the clubs did not agree on the amount of salaries. The players then fled to Europe. Because of this, the Czech extra league was the busiest in history. One of the “refugees” was Milan Hejduk. He chose his Pardubice, but, just like in the 1993/1994 season, the team faltered at the bottom of the table.

“The beginning was terrible. We didn’t win about seven games. Then it kind of took off. In the end, the team was very strong. Before the season, we were considered one of the biggest favorites for the title. It was a bad start, but that happens sometimes. He must not succumb to skepticism, because there are still many wheels to correct. Moreover, when the team has such quality as we had then,” he explains.

The coach František Výborny, who became famous in Sparta Prague, was replaced by the Pardubice patriot and hockey legend Vladimír Martinec

“Of course, the change of coach helped us. Although Mr. Excellent is also a good coach and we had nothing against him. At that time, however, the team did not step under him, so he bounced back. Vláďa Martinec came as Pardubák. The team kicked up and we started winning,” recalls the native of Ústí nad Labem.

Sedlak is a player for the NHL

The club half of his heart is beating this season. They remain at the top of the extra league. He lost only once in regular time.

“I watch the boys. They are doing well and I would of course wish them to win the extra league. But there is still a long way to go. A few other teams are grinding their teeth for the title, but Pardubice is a big favorite for me. But the play off is a different competition, that’s where bread is broken. However, they are playing great so far. They have a really high-quality staff,” he reminds.

Václav Varaďa rules with a firm hand on the Dynamo bench. Milan Hejduk knows him very well as an NHL opponent from the fights with Buffalo and Ottawa. And he also met him on Saturday at the veteran level.

“Venca Varaďa was a great fighter at the time of his greatest glory. It was not easy to play against him. He finished all the fights. In addition, he had an excellent shot.’

And once again the current Pardubice. The main star of Dynamo is Lukáš Sedlák, who also flashed in the Colorado Avalanche.

“I had fun dreaming in the Dynamo cabin when we were here in October. I thought it was a shame they traded him from Colorado to Philadelphia. The matches that I saw him, he played excellently. He is a very good hockey player. But even after the exchange, he probably didn’t have the role he imagined. That’s why he decided to return to Europe. But for me he is clearly a player for the NHL,” says Hejduk.

QUIZ: How well do you know the legends of Pardubice hockey?

Sedlák preferred the Czech Extraliga to the NHL. There aren’t many fighters like that…

“He’s thirty and he didn’t want to bother himself somewhere. Start in the third or fourth line. You don’t play power plays, you don’t have such an important role in the team. Sedlo is not a player for the third or fourth line, he is a guy for the first line. When I saw him in Colorado, I thought, this guy has to be in the first two lines. But sometimes it happens that the management or coaches in that club have a different view. Anyway, he is an excellent hockey player,” he says.

His peers, who have gone down in the history of overseas clubs in bold letters, continue to work for their breadwinners. For example, Patrik Eliáš works for the New Jersey Devils as a consultant.

“I’m such an ambassador. I’m helping to grow hockey in Colorado. I sometimes meet with the club’s management, but I don’t want to give them full advice,” Hejduk clarifies.

In the last commercial break of the Duel of Legends match, the attention of the whole hall shifted to the diver, who was making a fool of himself with the Mitr Cup. In 2005, he was given an earful by the Pardubice champions. So two final questions?

Were you happy that the diver fished the championship trophy from the Elbe and brought it to you at the changeover?

So he finally found himself (laughs).

Will you reveal years later how he ended up there?

That is not known.

Source: Daily/Zdeněk Zamastil

The article is in Czech

Tags: Hejduk place title Beautiful memories Pardubice seasons


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