Czech greats of the past and present were gathering in Litvinov on Saturday to join in celebration of the memory of former Detroit Red Wings star Petr Klima. And they did so in the best fashion possible – by playing a charity hockey game.
Among the current NHL stars participating in the festivities were David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, Martin Necas of the Carolina Hurricanes, David Kampf of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jan Rutta of the San Jose Sharks and former Red Wings forward Filip Zadina, now of the Sharks and defenseman Filip Hronek, currently performing for the Vancouver Canucks. Pastrnak began the game working on a line with Klima’s twin sons Kelly and Kevin.
38 years ago today ON THIS DAY in hockey history (August 18, 1985):
— Vintage Hockey Showcase (@hockey_vintage) August 18, 2023
Past Czech NHLers who were opting to suit up included Patrik Elias, Michal Neuvirth, Ziggy Palffy, Robert Reichel, Ondrej Pavelec, Ondrej Kase, David Vyborny, Martin Skoula and Jiri Tlusty. Another curious participant was former Czech international and Chelsea soccer goalkeeper Peter Cech, today a netminder in English pro hockey.
Cech can now boast that he’s faced shots from both Lionel Messi and Pastrnak.
Praise In Memory Of Klima
Coaches for the game were including ex-NHLers Martin Rucinsky, Jakub Voracek and Jiri Slegr, the latter a member of the Red Wings’ 2001-02 Stanley Cup championship squad.
“I said the lineup and gave the boys beers,” Voracek was telling Czech website isport.blesk.cz of his role behind the bench.
Participants were sharing their memories of Klima and recognizing his legacy to the sport in his homeland.
“I didn’t know him personally, but I have a memory of him from February,” Elias said. Both players were performing at the time in a game to honor the 25th anniversary of the 1998 Czech Olympic gold medal win. “He was amazing there, fun to be with. He really enjoyed it.”
It wasn’t long after that when Klima died on May 4 at the age of 58.
“No one could have guessed what would happen next,” Elias noted. “But the memory of him like this is excellent. Even with the fact that both of his sons played on the ice. Everything fell into place.”
Oddly enough, the game took place almost 38 years to the Aug. 18, 1985 day when Klima’s defection from the former Czechoslovakia to play for the Red Wings took place.