Prague with the Bruins: A very special street hockey clinic

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Prague with the Bruins: A very special street hockey clinic

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

Krejci's street hockey clinic is next on our agenda. I don't have much for details so can only envision an event put on for children, you know, the typical PR goodwill effort.

But first we have to get there.

Prague is a scenic walking city, sure, but a cab is the best option when you're late no matter where in the world you're traveling. My cabbie (still don't know the Czech word) happens to be a hockey player... pads and stick in the trunk tipped me off. When we tell him where we need to go, he jumps in "I play street hockey.' Hockey ball', it's called in Prague," he tells us. It's a funny little coincidence. Then it gets interesting.

"You know Vladimir Ruzicka?" the cabbie asks.

"Rosie!" we say. "He was a great player for the Bruins."

The driver goes on to tell us how he's known Rosie Ruzicka since he was a young boy and how they grew up together, as he weaves in and out of crowds of people (yes, people, not cars) to take us to Old Town Square.

"Prosim," I say in thanks. Not quite sure if it's for the ride, the story, or that he didn't kill us all.

The hockey ball clinic is not at all what I expected. A "rink" has been created to cover up the beautiful unevenness of the city's cobblestone. Fans gather around the outside and are cheering loudly by the time we get there. There is a stage on one side that boasts the NHL event in Prague and a small Czech man with a big booming voice thanks to the PA system. He announces that Krejci, Chara, Marco Sturm and Nolan Schaefer are the Bruins representatives for the day. They walk out into the rink and sit down in their wheelchairs.

Yeah. Wheelchairs.
The guys they're going up against are also in wheelchairs--they just don't have a choice. Whether by amputation, paralysis, or some other misfortune, the four hockey ballers going against some of Boston's pros (and both goalies) are all handicapped.

But not when it comes to the sport. The Czech players have Krej and his men in fits. Marco Sturm is so slow trying to wheel after the whiffle ball-puck that it's funny to watch. Krej's lack of mobility is just as hilarious. Their opponents, however, survive by their upper body strength and are pivoting and flying around the rink with ease.

And determination.

The thing all these men share is a desire to win. There is plenty of laughing and grinning--as I watch my own smiling is relentless enough to hurt my cheeks --but the "clinic" was competitive. At one point Chara gets so frustrated by a missed goal that he slaps his stick down on the ground. And Krejci's joy when the Bruins finally answer the Czech team with a goal of their own is sincere.

I have no idea who won the game. It's a good thing that wasn't really the point of the event.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: So long, Wings' streak

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Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings: So long, Wings' streak

The Washington Capitals remain on top, but it's time to recognize the Red Wings' 25-year playoff streak that will come to an end this spring.

Saturday, Feb. 25: Shea Theodore waits for his time with Ducks

Saturday, Feb. 25: Shea Theodore waits for his time with Ducks

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while giving two thumbs up to The Lego Batman Movie after a screening with my 3 1/2 year old.

*Alex Prewitt has a profile on Anaheim defenseman prospect Shea Theodore as he waits for his time with the Ducks.

*The Vancouver Canucks have a mumps problem this season, and we continue to wonder why this is becoming an issue again in a first-world society.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough has Patrick Eaves dealt to the Ducks for what could be first round pick if Anaheim advances far enough through the playoffs.

*Flyers GM Ron Hextall says that Philly’s young team won’t be buying ahead of next week’s NHL trade deadline.

*Along with his “Sutter-isms”, diversity is a family value for the Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter.

*Dave Strader gets back into the broadcast booth with the Dallas Stars, and will be a welcomed addition to the national NBC broadcast of Bruins/Stars on Sunday afternoon.

*As cold as he was earlier in the season, New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is heating up now for the Blueshirts.

*For something completely different: Brie Larson is already prepping for her role as Captain Marvel by stepping up her game as an influence for positive change among her Hollywood peers.