Jagr hosts game in Prague to support Ukraine, receives NHL donation
Jaromir Jagrthe third-highest scorer in NHL history, and Kladno, the team he owns in the Czech Extraliga, helped raise more than $160,000 on Tuesday for Ukrainian refugees fleeing to the Czech Republic.
The money was raised through ticket sales for Kladno’s regular season finale, which was moved to the O2 Arena in Prague. The match drew a crowd of 14,512 to the 18,000-seat arena, with others buying virtual tickets for the cause.
Prior to the game, a video of NHL commissioner Gary Bettman pledging his support for Jagr and his cause was played in the arena. The NHL also announced it was donating $68,000, in honor of Jagr’s No. 68, to the fundraising effort. The $68,000 was part of the $160,000 raised.
“It’s a nice gesture,” Jagr said of the NHL donation and Commissioner Bettman’s video message. “I personally have to shoot a video and thank the whole NHL, not only for the amount they donated but also for promoting this game. I think thanks to [the NHL]all hockey fans know this game. And that’s a good thing, maybe even more than the money itself.”
Video: Bettman and NHL support Jagr’s commitment to Ukraine
According to Vit Rakusan, Minister of Interior of the Czech Republic, more than 100,000 Ukrainian refugees have fled to the Czech Republic since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 23.
“I feel so sad when I see people running away and only taking one bag with them,” Jagr said. “Mothers and children part with their fathers while fathers go to fight and don’t know if they will ever come back. The only thing they hope for is that the world will take care of their wives and their children.”
Jagr announced on Facebook on March 3 that he was moving Kladno’s final regular season game, against Sparta, to the O2 Arena. Kladno played home games at Rocknet Arena in Chomutov, Czech Republic, which has a capacity of 5,250. He hasn’t played a game this season at his home stadium, the Zimni Stadion, which is being renovated and should be ready for the start of next season. This arena has a capacity of 5,500 seats.
“We would dedicate proceeds from the entrance fee to Ukrainian families,” Jagr wrote. “I would like this to happen in the O2 Arena as it is a popular and modern arena, where a large number of people can come and help. I would like your opinion if you come to the game and help us in this way those who need it the most right now.”
On Friday, Jagr wrote: “I am very happy to confirm that everything has been successful, even in such a short time. Now our only wish is to sell the O2 Arena. Buy a ticket and help these Ukrainian families in the Czech Republic! “
The O2 Arena is Sparta’s home arena, but Kladno was the home team for the 4-1 loss.
Jagr has played for Kladno for four seasons since leaving the NHL after 2017-18. The 50-year-old forward has scored 766 goals, the third in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801), in 24 seasons for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, Rangers New York, Philadelphia Flyers, Jersey Devils Stars, Florida Panthers and Calgary Flames.
Jagr is two goals clear of the Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin. He ranks second in points (1,921) behind Gretzky (2,857)
Jagr won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s five-time leading scorer, Hart Trophy voted NHL Most Valuable Player in 1998-99, and the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
He chose his No. 68 uniform to remember 1968, the year Soviet tanks entered Czechoslovakia to stop the Prague Spring.
“I want to thank everyone who participated and helped out,” Jagr said. “The final score shows one team winning and the other team losing the match, but that’s a secondary thing. I think today everyone won.”
NHL.com/cs Independent Correspondent Michael Langr contributed to this report