In Bow’s two years in Kladno, he has seen Jagr’s impact.
“Without him, I don’t know if there is a team here,” Bow stated. “He’s pouring in hours of work to make sure everything is up and running. We don’t have the biggest budget, but he’s making sure we have sponsors and we have a team. It’s his baby, and it’s amazing to see how much people love him.”
The The Czech Republic, Pittsburgh
Kladno is a charming medieval town center with modern residence flats and farmland outside. It was once the heart of Europe’s industrial (and hockey!) center. It is less than 20 miles from Prague, and it’s well-known for its great Poldi steelworks, which Karl Wittgenstein, father of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, opened in 1889.
Poldi Kladno was a sponsor of the club under the Communist postwar regime. The team won five national championships, including one in 1980. This resulted behind Milan Novy who is perhaps the most famous Czech hockey player.
“This city has got such a big history,” Jagr.
Kladno’s population during that period was about 50,000, and roughly 20,000 worked at Poldi. The factory was not ready for the new free market and collapsed after 1989’s fall of the Communist government. Many people sought employment elsewhere, particularly in Prague or at the nearby airport. The Factory buildings are still standing, however, only a small number of them are being used by smaller companies.
Jan Ulrych is 46-years old and a data analyst. He takes his son along to Kladno for the odd game. Jagr was spotted on a few occasions by him and his family in Kladno, a city of 70,000. He pointed out the orderly, quiet streets that are almost empty on weekends.
“I always thought it was an ugly, industrial town with nothing going on,” He added. “But I found out that it’s not that bad. Jagr being back, maybe it helps a bit, too.”