Petr Sýkora

Veteran skates with Stanley Cup

Some get rich, some get poor during soccer’s active off-season

Last time Petr Sýkora’s team won the Stanley Cup, he was laid up in a nearby hospital. So there was no way a suspected broken foot was going to stop Pittsburgh’s veteran Czech winger from appearing at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena June 12 to party with the world’s most famous trophy in the aftermath of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2-1 victory in game seven of the Stanley Cup final against the Detroit Red Wings.

Sýkora injured his foot blocking a shot in game six, his first game of the finals. He had struggled with a shoulder injury but had been a healthy scratch since early May, before Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma gave him a chance in game six of the finals. Then Sýkora picked up the foot injury only six minutes into the game.

Sýkora took off his orthopedic boot and jammed the injured right foot into a skate to get himself onto the ice and do a victory lap with the Stanley Cup.

“I was thinking about how to do it throughout the first period. I found a way to put the skate on, and I’m so happy I was able to skate around with the cup,” Sýkora told TV Nova as he lounged in his locker room stall with the foot tightly bandaged. “It hurts like hell, but nothing can compare to right after the game and being on the ice and lifting the cup.”

Despite winning his first cup with the New Jersey Devils back in 2000, Sýkora never had the chance to make a victory lap. When his New Jersey teammates celebrated their win over Dallas, Sýkora was in a local hospital being checked for head injuries after absorbing a vicious check. Patrik Eliáš, Sýkora’s teammate in New Jersey, draped Sýkora’s jersey over his shoulder when he was lifting the Stanley Cup, and, later, the Devils brought the cup to Sýkora in the hospital. While a nice gesture, Sýkora says it is not the same as being on the ice with the team in the immediate aftermath of the triumph.

“What a great feeling. I can’t describe how good that feels,” Sýkora told NHL.com.

Surprisingly, Sýkora did not have to wait long for his turn with the cup this time around. Despite not playing in game seven, Sýkora was the fifth Penguin to receive a turn with the Stanley Cup.

“It goes by age, so that’s not a good sign,” Sýkora said.

Cash rules

During the soccer’s offseason, it is money as usual that is drawing attention to the game. While Cristiano Ronaldo became the most expensive player of all time after Real Madrid bought the Portuguese midfielder from Manchester United for ?80 million, some top Czech clubs are struggling with financial woes. The 2005 Gambrinus liga champion Baník Ostrava faces bankruptcy proceedings after a supplier of sporting goods and equipment initiated legal action over the club’s failure to pay invoices worth 3.3 million Kč. The club’s representatives admitted they owe the money, but said they are waiting for payments from some foreign clubs for former Baník player transfers. Club owner Tomáš Petera said Baník is not up for sale.

Meanwhile, Czech FA Cup winner FK Teplice is up for sale. Its Belgian owner, glass works group AGC, reportedly is looking for investors interested in buying the club, daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported in mid-June. Although no particular bidder has been revealed, investors from Arabia, Russia and Western Europe are reportedly considering buying the traditional north Bohemian soccer club. The newspaper reported that the club could be sold for between 300 million and 500 million Kč. Štěpán Popovič, a former top-level AGC manager who is now retired, revealed his company’s intention to sell FK Teplice. “The soccer club has greatly boosted the corporate image, but there are economic aspects too. Financing the club has been costly, and, if the corporation finds a suitable investor, they’ll simply sell it,” Popovič said.

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