NHL legend Jaromir Jagr moves Czech hockey game to raise money for Ukrainian refugees

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NHL legend Jaromir Jagr chose the No. 68 jersey to remember 1968, the year the Soviet Union invaded Czechoslovakia to stop the Prague Spring. After nearly 30 years in the game, Jagr is using hockey to once again support the people of a country invaded by Russia.

Kladno, a Czech Extraliga team that Jagr owns and plays for, is moving its final regular season game to the 02 Arena in Prague on Tuesday to raise money for Ukrainian refugees who have traveled to the Czech Republic.

On Thursday, Jagr pitched the idea of ​​moving the game to Facebook, and the next day he made the change official. Jagr’s original post garnered over 19,000 likes and 900 comments.

“I am very happy to confirm that everything has been successful even in such a short time,” Jagr wrote on Friday. “Now our only wish is to sell the O2 Arena. Buy a ticket and help these Ukrainian families in the Czech Republic!”

Selling 02 Arena could be a challenge for Kladno, as the venue is much bigger than what the team is used to. Kladno has played home games at Rocknet Arena this season and at Zimni Stadium in recent seasons, both of which can seat fewer than 6,000. 02 Arena seats approximately 18,000.

Sparta, Kladno’s opponents on Tuesday, could benefit from ticket sales efforts as 02 Arena is their home stadium. Kladno, however, will serve as the home team for this particular game.

Jagr has played for Kladno since leaving the NHL after the 2017-18 season. The 50-year-old scored 766 goals during his 24-year NHL career, good for third most behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). Jagr won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player in 1998-99, led the league in scoring five times and won two Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Catherine J. Martinez