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Jaromir Jagr honors Vaclav Havel

December 20, 2011

Flyer Jaromir Jagr has a new decal on his helmet: that of VH, to honor the former Czech president and dissident Vaclav Havel, who passed away three days ago. The tribute was applied just before Philadelphia’s game against Colorado last night. Thousands have visited town squares and churches across the Czech Republic since Havel’s death. The small gesture was Jagr’s way of acknowledging the man that had a small role in his own career.

Jagr is no newcomer to political statements with his attire: he has worn number 68 since entering the league, in a nod to the Prague Spring of 1968. In an interview with Blesk, Jagr noted that he had met Havel multiple times, including at the White House. Havel’s role in opening up the formerly closed Czechoslovakia was instrumental in Jagr’s transition to the NHL in 1990-1991. The similarities between the two men are striking at times: Havel never wanted to be a politician, and surely Jagr always wanted to be a hockey player, but whether he wanted to become emblematic of the surge of post-Soviet Bloc players to enter the NHL in the early 1990s, we don’t know. Freedom of expression, civic action autonomous from the state: both Havel and Jagr took heart to acting as free agents in their respective fields.

The 2011-2012 season has been the season of the decal and the patch: from the Hurricanes to the Red Wings, the Ducks to the Jets, honoring the deaths of Lokomotiv and the trio of fallen men this summer has resulted in a poignant reminder on the garb of players each time they take the ice.


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