By Mary Paoletti
PRAGUE -- I am not used to seeing Bruins fans in Prague yet.
There were some out this morning, wandering around the sun-streaked Charles Bridge. Because I've been here before, I have certain expectations for the way things are supposed to look. It's strange to me that the Franz Kafka statue now has "ART IS WAR" spray painted across his right leg. So when I see a family in Bruins windbreakers posing in front of "The Lamentation of Christ," it throws me off a little.
There are fewer 'Yotes fans. My guess at the ratio is 3:1 Boston to Phoenix.
The pregame scene at O2 Arena, site of this auspicious NHL Premiere 2010, is also a degree off from "normal."
People are milling around outside two hours before game time. They wear Chara shirts, Bourque jerseys; they drape Bruins scarves around their necks--all the usual gear--but I'm put completely on tilt when I hear these "Boston fans" speaking in Czech.
At least I think it's Czech. Oh Thursday morning I spoke with a Slovakian woman, a group of Scots and some Swedish businessmen before I found someone native to Prague.
It reminds me of the story Claude Julien told Wednesday about Europeans being so happy to see good hockey that they'll give applause to whichever team finds the back of the net.
Another difference? Many of the people are sitting around, waiting to get it. There aren't any bars around; there's no Fours, Porters or Sully's Tap to gather in for pregame drinking. Maybe nobody wants to take the time to figure out how many korunas a Guinness costs. Or maybe it's just a complete absence of hockey culture.
In a way it makes sense.
Mary Paoletti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while refraining from shoving any world leaders today.
*Larry Robinson and the San Jose Sharks are parting after working together for five seasons, per FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Kurz.
*Speaking of Kurz, he also has a Sharks mailbag on which players are most likely to be traded out of San Jose during the offseason. Somebody has got to go, and you’d think it would be somebody without much tread left on the tires.
*Moving on to other topics, Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler said that losing a Game 6 in the Western Conference Finals to the Nashville Predators was the “toughest” loss of his career. I don’t see how this is possible. You see, Kesler is no slouch at falling short. In fact, he’s a tremendous loser, having dropped a Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at home in 2011 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, and also having lost a Gold Medal Game for Team USA at the hands of Sidney Crosby and Canada in 2010 in overtime that was also played in Vancouver. It took a simple Google search to find an actual postgame video of Kesler crying into his hockey glove on the bench in the aftermath of Game 7 vs. the Bruins. So, pardon me if I’m not buying Kesler talking about a conference finals loss as the worst of his career when he was one home win away from being a Stanley Cup champion in Game 7, and proceeded to lose like he’s done many, many times in the most important games of his career. Dude, you’ve been through tougher losses. Trust me on that one.
*The idea of trading Alex Ovechkin might be gaining some traction with the Capitals fan base, but it doesn’t seem to be based on reality at this point.
*The pride of Melrose, Mass, Conor Sheary, delivered in Game 7 for the Penguins as they return to the Stanley Cup Final in back-to-back seasons.
*Bobby Ryan said his strategy for success in the playoffs, at least in part, was staying off the phone. Maybe he ought to try that a bit more during the regular season.
*Congrats to the folks at NBC for another successful Red Nose Day that featured a reunion of the “Love Actually” cast among other things.