I’ll admit I’ve been somewhat lax in keeping up with Siberia’s most dysfunctional franchise, but I spotted this interview with Jaromir Jagr in Komsomolskay Pravda a week ago and though it might be a good place to try to pick things up again.
The KHL has been on hiatus for the past week while the LG Hockey games, the final stage of the Euro Hockey Tour, are being played in Sweden. Despite early reports to the contrary, Jagr did not join the roster for his native Czech Republic, and as best I can tell he’s spent his break hanging out in the Czech Republic trying to recruit VladimÃr RÅ¯Å¾iÄka and/or FrantiÅ¡ek VÃ½bornÃ½ and his assistant Marian JelÃnek to replace Wayne Fleming behind the bench in Omsk.
The KHL resumes play on Wednesday, when Avangard visits Lada Togliatti.
Jaromir Jagr: In Youth I Wanted to be Like John Bon Jovi
In addition the well-known hockey player talked about what kind of student h was in school, why he dislikes noisy holidays and why he hasn’t married yet.
Evgeni Lev – 01/31/2009
“Remember how the Russians won the war?”
- When you went to Omsk, surely you expected that Avangard would be amongst the leaders?
- Naturally, when I flew here I thought that the team would play better. Yes, we’re losing now, but we still haven’t lost anything. Remember, how in the second world ward the Germans too constantly pressed, and the Russians retreated all the time? And who won in the end?
- All season the team has faced problems. Will they ever end?
- Now no matter where you look, it seems that everything is always bad for us. But I hope, that soon we’re due to begin a bright patch. Hardships strengthen [you] — no longer is everything terrible for us! And as you know, it sometimes happens that a whole season can go very well for a team, but any small false step can wreck the whole group.
- In the game against Mettalurg Novokuznetsk Alexander Svitov had a showdown with the officials — he has received a seven-game suspension for it. How can one explain the actions of the team’s captain?
- All people are different, and it’s difficult for me to condemn Sasha. Fans need to understand that we are in a difficult situation: in each game we struggle for points. And here in two straight matches to run into such incomprehensible officiating… Even I do not like to get involved with the officials and have been unable to restrain myself!
- You already played in Omsk in 2005. Overseas did they ask afterwards why Jaromir Jagr chose such a place to continue his career?
- To be honest, up until the end in the NHL not everyone even knew that I played in Omsk. Not many [people] overseas watched me during the lockout. And here in the Czech Republic literally everyone was interested in learning about the city in which I played.
- You are a superstar in the hockey world. There are constantly journalists around you. You’ve given them many interviews in the last few months?
- Many, I can’t even say the exact number. By the way, between Russian and American journalists there is an essential difference. In the west they’re only interested in the hockey itself — the last game, the next meeting. I often didn’t see the point in such interviews. Here the press tries to learn more abougt the person: how you became who you are. People often ask very personal questions. It seems to me that readers like this kind of information more.
- Sometimes you answer in English, sometimes, in Russian…
- It’s easier for me to speak English, of course. I lived in America for so many years — I spoke, thought and gave interviews in [English]. Recently I spoke with a journalist and totally without realizing myself I slipped from English into Russian because I couldn’t find the necessary word [in English].
“In youth I wanted to be like a rock star”
- Were you a good student?
- Up until I was 15 years old I still had time for it. But then I started training from 9 until 12 in the morning, and did so every day. I began to study in an individual program. Everything that kids learned in three months, I had to master in a few days.
- In Czechoslovakia all school children were required to learn Russian…
- Yes. I remember that nobody wanted to study it. And in addition we had a bad teacher — from the USSR as I recall. She hated me — maybe because of the fact that in 15 years I had already earned more than her?
One day the teacher asked how certain words sound in Russian. And so she came to the word “hello”. And for some reason I lost my head and answered in German: “Guten Tag!” This infuriated her, because she was sure that I was mocking her.
- Did you fight during childhood?
- I was a quiet child. Even on the ice I never fought. Although this is easy to explain: I always played with kids who were 2-3 years older and was the smallest on the team. There was no sense in fighting in such a situation.
- The whole world still remembers your long hair in the beginning of the 90s.
- At that time that was simply the style. All rock stars had long hair styles — John Bon Jovi, for example. I wanted to look like him. By the way, when I lived in communist Czechoslovakia, I couldn’t listen to any music. But when I arrived in America, I found out that there was heavy rock. I liked Aerosmith, Guns & Roses a lot.
- And in the Avangard locker room, what music is played before games?
- What music plays in the locker room depends on in whose hands the remote finds itself. We have guys who like to be the DJ. They’re faced with a complex problem: it’s difficult to please everyone, and as you know on a team there are 25 people! If you don’t like it — you can leave the locker room. (Laughs.) Before a game many guys will listen to their [music] player on headphones.
- Are you a superstitious person?
- Superstitions arise when you’re not sure of yourself and try to find side reasons for failure. I think, it is most important to believe. A strong person will find in himself the virtues to achieve success.
- Right now you drive a Mercedes. And do you remember your first car?
- I can’t even say what make I had at first — some American sports car. But my first day at the wheel in America I met with an unpleasant incident: I hit a deer. And in general, I hate traffic jams — I don’t like to lose a whole lot of time on the roads. In Moscow and America it is very difficult to drive a car.
- What do you like to read?
- I’m not interested in books in which the author makes up the story. They give me nothing because its not true. I read only that which gives me answers to my questions: books about faith, biographies of well known people which talk about how to become successful. Often I go on the Internet and try to find answers to interesting questions there.
- Do you consider yourself a well-to-do person?
- It all depends on the needs of the person. If one wishes to change cars and houses every day, nothing will ever suffice. I myself am ready to be content with little — I don’t need much to live.
“I’m ready to give everything I have to my father!”
- You once declared that if your father asks you to return to the Czech Republic, you will fly there at once. Why?
- You know, its necessary to say frankly (these words he says in Russian then changes to English – Ed.), everyone has different relationships with their parents. There are those who achieved everything by themselves and consequently do not feel gratitude to their father and mother. But my parents devoted their whole life to bringing me up. Everything that I have, I owe to them. And I could give my father everything that I have.
- Your father has a business in the Czech Republic. Are you prepared that sooner or later he will transfer his business to you?
- That will happen, probably, but just now I want to play hockey as long as possible. If you’re going to devote yourself to something else it you need to start from scratch. And when I become successful in the new business, I’ll already be 70 years old! (Laughs) But I really don’t like when something turns out badly for me!
- You speak about your parents with such warmth. Do you not plan to start a family of your own?
- When you start a family, you automatically must think not only about yourself, but about the other person. It is a very big responsibility for people. If my girlfriend was 25-26 years old, then it would already be time to talk about marriage, but she’s only 22.
- She’s not in Omsk right now. What is she doing?
- She’s studying at a Czech university. Now she’s left for the semester. When it lets out she will be a specialist in marketing and public relations.
- Did you celebrate New Year merrily?
- I don’t like big, noisy holidays. Because, as you know, I don’t drink at all and its impossible for me to understand the merriment of the people that surround me. And on Christmas we played in Riga — so that wasn’t much of a holiday either.
- You don’t consume alcoholic drinks at all. Why?
- My parents never drank, and we didn’t have alcohol in our house — it probably all started there. I don’t like the taste of alcohol, even though everyone in the Czech Republic drinks beer. If it was sweet, I would become and alcoholic, because I love sweet very much! (Laughs)
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