Jaromir Jagr has played on the biggest stages in hockey. The czech hockey legend won two Stanley Cups back to back in his first two years playing in the NHL.
But in 1994, the NHL season was cancelled during the fall. The lockout was official which led to players finding new temporary teams to play for.
Jaromir Jagr headed back to the Czech Republic and his childhood team of Kladno, which he years later became the owner of. He didn’t disappoint anyone, putting up 22 points in 11 games.
But that wasn’t the craziest story of the lockout for Jagr. He continued with playing a couple of games with the Italian team HC Bolzano. Then, Jagr travelled to the German city of Gelsenkirchen to play for Schalker Haie 87. In the third tier.
He had heard from his agent that the NHL was on track solving the lockout with Jagr soon returning to Pittsburgh.
Jagr still had a week or two to go before he left Europe. And that’s when the opportunity for the German team came up. Peter Fiala, head coach of the Schalker Haie 87, knew Jagr from Kladno and decided to give it a shot.
Of course, he said yes and went to the German city in January 1995 to play one game.
“I personally picked him up from the airport and we’d booked the most expensive suite at the hotel. But he preferred to sleep at Fiala’s, even though he didn’t have a second bed. In the end he slept on a couch,” team treasurer Gerd Mayer recalled in an interview with Reiver Sport.
The only problem was money. Since the club was in the third division, the financial situation wasn’t the best, and bringing a NHL superstar to the team could be expensive.
But in the end, Jagr didn’t want money for playing one game.
“The only thing he wanted was a schnitzel with fries and mayonnaise.”
Still, Schalker Haie 87 needed to solve the problem of paying the insurance Jagr had from North America. And since he still had his NHL contract, the amount of money they had to pay was the same as if it would’ve been in NHL.
With the help of a local sponsor, they could pay the $7000 for three hours, from 8:00 pm to 11:00 pm, to get Jagr on the ice.
Before the game, the insurance specialist even arranged for the team to send the zamboni out a second time so that Jagr wouldn’t go onto the ice too early.
So how did Jagr do? Well, you could say that he showed them his game.
Jagr marked his first goal after 27 seconds of the game. The team came out with the 20-2 victory and Jagr put up a total of 11 points, tallying 10 assists.
Gerd Mayer says that Jagr was a great guy, staying after the games for several hours to sign jerseys.
“And he got his schnitzel there too. Not an arrogant type at all,” Meyer told Reiver Sport.
Jagr drove back to Kladno the next day. And even though he wasn’t going to remember the game as his best throughout his career, he surely gave the players, staff, coaches and fans of Schalker Haie 87 an experience they will never forget.
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