Back to the Prague Premiere Grind

NHL PREMIERE IN PRAGUE

You know it’s a good thing when you’re checking in at the media accreditation centre and they say, “You were here before, right?” 

Hallelujah. 

Why?  Because that means they’re not going to give me a hard time like last time.  They didn’t even give me a hard time about my passport.  They didn’t even ask to see it.  All signs that this time, it will be a little bit of a smoother ride at O2 Arena…and not so military-like.

They also didn’t put that red ban across it that said NO LOCKER ROOM ACCESS like last time.  I noticed a few reporters had it on theirs, but they were in the locker room anyway…just like I was last time.  Not quite sure what that red ban is really for.

After I got my badge, I headed down to the arena.  The Coyotes practice was just kicking off when I arrived. 

Now, I only get to see Phoenix once or twice a year.  But there are some faces I recognize like Mr. Maloney (once upon a time we took in some rays next to each other on the beaches of Puerto Rico…to which I said, “Wow.  Petr Prucha is whiter than that albino kid over there.”  Maloney looked over at me and started laughing.  At the time, it was true!).  There’s also Prucha from back in his days as a New York Ranger.

I also recognized Lauri Korpikoski.  He was actually at the last NHL Prague premiere along with Prucha for the Rangers.

Total practice pucks collected from the Phoenix practice: 3

I was able to interview Prucha for a few minutes about growing up hockey.  I basically had to wait after the Czech reporters…and after the team meeting to talk to Prucha. 

After Pru, there was the Bruins practice, a team I see more often during the season.  Along with that, it seems like there are a lot of Bruins reporters in town…many of which I either know or follow on Twitter.  I don’t think there are that many Phoenix writers.  I can tell from the lack of stories out there.  All of the Prague premiere stories are very Boston driven.

Now, the ongoing theme at O2 Arena has been how is it that a Devils/Rangers reporter is covering the Bruins/Coyotes game in Prague?  Then it clicks…this is an NHL event…I cover those things.  Technically, I could have gone to Helsinki or Stockholm, but I love Prague.  Give me a reason to go, and I will!

Before I forget to mention…I did find it very interesting that the Boston coaching staff sat in for the entire Coyotes practice. 

For Boston’s practice, I just have to say…Tim Thomas is probably one of the coolest hockey guys out there.  I look at him and I just start cracking up.  I just have so many memories of him doing stuff that has had me cracking up in hysterics…like when Sean Avery hit him in the back of the head with his stick and he went after him…or that time Carey Price appeared to be talking smack about Thomas and he overheard everything…I could swear to you a smackdown was about to go down, and then Tim waved it off and headed to the showers.  When I broke out into laughter, Carey looked at me and said, “What?”  I pointed towards the showers.  Carey looked over at the door…no one was there.  I then muttered, “Tim just heard everything you just said.”  To which Carey replied…yeah, you wish I’d tell you what he said after that!

Memories are made of these…practically all of my Tim Thomas moments have had me cracking up.  Today, I had to wait for all of the Czech media to finish asking him about the playoffs last year and the Olympics.

By the time I could ask my questions on the growing up hockey piece, I had five minutes with Tim and that meant he had five minutes to change and get on the bus.  Halfway through the interview, the Bruins communications guy told me to ask one more question and that was it for today.

Well, like most goalies, Tim had a lot to say in response to that question.  After he finished, I thanked him and explained that my interviews are usually a lot longer.  Maybe after tomorrow’s skate (if he skates) we can finish.

The only thing I should feel bad about (because Tim was so obliging in doing this interview with me and he was still half dressed in his gear) he had two minutes to change out of his gear and get on the bus…or it would leave without him.  How did I know the bus would leave without him?

As I was leaving, Zdeno Chara was blocking the door for me to leave.  He was not happy.  He was still in his skates and in full gear (except for his jersey), and he was being told he had two minutes to change and get on the bus or it would leave without him.  The look on his face was classic!

He tried to talk them into making the bus wait, but they wouldn’t budge.  It was either 2 minutes or find another way.  He tried to explain it was the press…they didn’t let him change.  They stayed the entire time.  He was being interviewed the entire time…

Nope.  2 minutes. 

Finally, I got Chara to move and let me by.  I almost wanted to tell him not to worry about it.  The metro was pretty easy and it was right outside of the arena.  He didn’t have to go far.  After all, he and Tim…maybe a few others…were probably going to have to find an alternate route anyway.

The bus waits for NO ONE…not even the superstars.

Total practice pucks collected from the Boston practice: 2

Considering I now have 5 pucks (and not the official Praha puck…yet), I’m wondering if this will be like last time with the NYR trying to convince me to pick a stick and take it home with me.  I was strongly urged to take Henrik’s stick home with me…I won’t say which NYR player suggested it.  AHEM.  I didn’t like the thought of paying the extra ‘sport bag’ fee to bring it back.  I think it was something like 50 euros…and I would have had to pay it twice (for the flight to Dublin and the flight from Dublin to home).

I basically said…why?  You can give me one at MSG.  But that, of course, never happened.

I think this time…I might bring a stick or two home with me if presented with the option again. 

Oh, speaking of Rangers…I have this reputation of being the person that former disgruntled Rangers players like to talk to regarding their thoughts on the Rangers.  Don’t think that another one didn’t find me in Prague.  I’m beginning to think I have some sort of calling card given to Rangers players upon their exit from the team and told…if you want to talk, talk to her.

I swear…I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake this stigma off of me.

As for touristy stuff around Prague…nada today.  I know…it’s crazy that I’ve been in my hotel for the past 7 hours writing.  But hey, it’s not like I haven’t been in Prague before!

As for food…I’m eating yesterday’s Boulevard Crocodile sandwich for dinner, because it needs to be eaten.  Earlier, I grabbed a hamburger from one of the stands next to the metro station by O2 arena.  I think from now on, I want sauerkraut on my hamburger.  For a little over a dollar, I had a really good hamburger today.

When I got back to Dejvicka, I had to stop into the pharmacia and ask for some ibuprofen.  The pharmacist didn’t speak a word of English.  She sold me a box of something.  I bought it, brought it back to the hotel, opened it to find pink pills.  In America, pink pills are allergy pills.

If worse came to worse, I’d just take a couple of allergy pills and maybe this rash from Ireland’s smokers would go away.  But luckily, they were ibuprofen.  You want to know how much a box of ibuprofen cost me?  Less than $2.  Prague…so cheap!

One last thing before I go tonight…most powerful words I saw today: Lou is calling the shots, not owners.

Over the summer, there was a rumor circulating that the owners were telling Lou what to do.  The whole Kovalchuk thing…they said this was not characteristic of Lou, it must be the owners telling him what to do. 

They believed that was the only thing that would explain why the whole saga even happened to begin with.  Lou went up against the NHL and for the first time, they struck down his law.  It was very uncharacteristic…which left room for people to question…just who was calling the shots?  The owners or Lou?

I could have told y’all that it was Lou.  I knew he was the one calling the shots when I saw him at the golf tournament.  Lou still got Kovalchuk for less than what other teams were offering him per year.  Lou still won.  That is very characteristic of him…to win.

It’s a good thing that it’s on record now that Lou is calling the shots.

Tomorrow’s a long day for me.  8:30AM game day skate for Phoenix, followed by Boston’s…and then the first Prague premiere game.

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