The Czech hockey players have done it. They reached for an Olympic medal and got one. Not gold and not silver. They got a bronze and should be happy for it. To be honest, I didn’t think they’d make it to the quarterfinals after losing to Switzerland, Finland and Canada in the preliminaries. But their win over Slovakia on February 22 got them into the semifinals … where they were killed 3:7 by the Swedes who played a superb, incomparably better game.
Overall, the Czech team didn’t seem to be together somehow during the Olympics. It was made up of many excellent, experienced players but they weren’t very well coordinated during some of the games, and didn’t seem motivated enough. It felt as if the bond that makes a team was missing. Their inconsistent results (four wins and four losses) make the bronze medal feel less deserved.
Jaromír Jágr announced today that the bronze-medal game in Turin was probably his last game for the Czech national team. A number of his team mates, the golden guys from Nagano, are supposedly leaving as well. What does it mean for Czech Republic ice hockey? We’ll find out during the 2006 IIHF World Championship in Riga that runs from May 5 to May 21. Something to look forward to!