Friday, 18 April 2014

Kladno ice hockey team enters new era with famous Jágr as owner

ČTK |
1 September 2011

Horni Bezdekov, Central Bohemia, Aug 31 (CTK) - The Czech ice hockey Elite League club of Kladno hopes to start a new successful era with famous forward Jaromir Jagr becoming its majority owner and helping the team prepare for the new season.

Jagr, 39, originally planned to enter the club, for which he started playing top hockey in the late 1980s, only after he ends his career but then he decided to do so this summer when it seemed that the club would have to move from Kladno, his home town, to another town due to financial problems.

Jagr said the only chance to save the club seemed to be for him to join it.

"I had little time to make the decision. I knew I cannot do anything else," he said Czech journalists.

Jagr took over the club from his father and he owns 70 percent of it now. The remaining 30 percent is owned by the town of Kladno.

On Tuesday, Jagr presented a number of changes in the club.

The team will play the Czech Elite League under the new name of Rytiri Kladno (Kladno Knights).

"A knight is courageous, honest, and never gives up. Knights respect one another, it is never "I" but always "we" and everybody plays fair. I want our players and the whole club to have these qualities," Jagr said.

The club's new logo is a medieval knight with the helmet of Saint Wenceslas, patron of Czechs.

Zdenek Vojta will be new main coach of the team.

Kladno's new major sponsor is Sazka, a big lottery company. However, Sazka has been in bankruptcy since the spring and its new owner is to be known by the end of September.

Jagr has become the key figure of Sazka's new advertising campaign.

He said earlier Sazka's new owner may cancel the contract with Rytiri Kladno but he added he believes this would not happen. "I believe we can help improve Sazka's reputation," he said, referring to the insolvency proceedings.

Kladno, a club with a long and successful history, has had big problems in the past few hockey seasons. It ended last but one in the past two seasons and this year it escaped having to fight a relegation duel only because Mlada Boleslav was stripped of points for fielding unregistered players.

Jagr said he feels very sorry he will not be present at the opening of the new season of the Czech top league as he has to join Philadelphia Flyers for whom he will play the forthcoming NHL season.

He transferred to Philadelphia from Avangard Omsk where he played three years.

Jagr said he hopes to play for Kladno himself soon, indicating that he does not plan to continue in the NHL or the KHL for a long time.

"I believe I will play with Kladno in a year or two and I hope to lead the team to finally become Czech champion," he said.

The team's captain Pavel Patera said the preparation for the new season is good.

"The mood is excellent since we have won seven of nine friendly games," Patera said on Tuesday.

Later on Tuesday, Kladno beat German Landshut Cannibals 6-2.

Jagr said the main say rests with the team's coaches yet he tries to help with training on ice and the system of play.

He said he would like to watch the team's games live but does not know yet whether it will be possible.

"I don't know how it will be working because I will have a lot to do with my own hockey," he said.

Jagr said he believes a good manager should be able to change the team's style during the game.

Despite the bad results in the past season, the club did not seek many new players.

"I believe all players in Kladno should get a fair chance to fight for their place in the team and show all critics that we can play hockey and fight to advance to the play-off part," Jagr said.

The Czech Elite League will start on September 16.

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