Translations by Tomas Jandik
Jagr's Deke - Reflex magazine - 30-Nov-00
by Jaromir Jagr
In my column, I usually try to open the door to NHL for you a little. I hope that this is interesting even for people who don't have a great interest in hockey. Sometimes I really want to talk more, sometimes less - that's how it goes.
Right now, I am a little shaken. We played at home with Carolina, and opponent's defenseman David Karpa hit Kovalev so badly that our player almost lost his eye. He was hit directly into an eye-arch with the stick, and our doctor said after the game that if it went just a few millimeters to the side, it would have been really bad. It happened right before the end - so I really wanted to stay away from everybody for the rest of the game.
I have never played with a fear. Otherwise, I simply would not be able to play. When the game starts, I forget everything. In addition, I have already got my share of hits - and I even received one of those more unpleasant in this game. Carolina's defenseman Ozolinch fired a slapshot, and while he was finishing the move, his stick hit me right into my nose. Actually, I got it between my teeth and my nose. Instantaneously, I got tears in my eyes, and I started bleeding like a pig. At first, I almost wanted to go get undressed, but eventually everything got better in a few minutes. Blood always stops flowing. Teeth hurt for a few days and then it's OK. Other injuries are worse.
I have always been afraid of an eye-injury the most. Since my young age, I have always worn a visor. Sure, there was a mandatory iron mask in juniors, but I have always tried to protect my eyes somehow. One of the myths about the NHL is that wearing a visor is considered a disgrace. That the hockey fighters yell at you: "First you cover your face and now you try to fight. What a hero!". That's not true anymore. Everybody understands that the health is the most important thing. Take Ron Francis, my long-time teammate. He now played for Carolina against us. He was hit once with the puck into his face, and the doctors told him he would lose his eye. He spent two weeks in the hospital. Fortunately, the doctors eventually were able to save that eye. But he would never jump on ice without the visor after this experience.
I feel really sick when I see blood flowing after the fights. Injuries resulting from the game are part of the hockey, but I have never cared much about the fights. The worst of all I have ever seen was the fight of our defenseman Frank Leroux and Twist. Leroux does not play for us anymore, he was a tall, kind of sloppy, but a useful defenseman. Twist has still a reputation of a killer. It was one of those 'life or death' duels. At one point, they stopped shielding, and Leroux, because he has longer hands, hit Twist. It was such a blast, that it tore half of his head. I had to turn around. At that point I did not care whether our player won or not. It was sickening.
I think it is easy to recognize that I try to stay away from fights. I was not very funny and humorous today, was I? Well, I save it for the next time.
Tomas Jandik is the resident Czech on LetsGoPens.com and is a man who unifies all the goodies of the American dream - meaning, of course, being a Pitt graduate, a Razorback, and a Penguins fan.
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