While many people were peacefully sleeping on the east coast when the news of a new CBA between the NHL and NHLPA was announced, Vinny Prospal was on a bus in the Czech Republic en route to play a hockey game in the Czech town of Zlin.
He had spent the past three months playing for his hometown team, Ceske Budejovice of the Czech Elite League, but upon hearing the news, he immediately set out to return to Columbus and to the people who matter most to him – his family.
“I’m glad to be playing, but I’m more excited when the news first came out, I was excited that I get to be with my family,” said Prospal after joining some of his teammates at the OhioHealth Ice Haus for a morning skate.
Players have been skating for roughly an hour and 15 minutes for the past four mornings, and more players have joined the skates as they trickle back to Columbus to get ready for the start of the new season. Brandon Dubinsky and Mark Letestu also suited up for today’s skate in addition to Prospal, who traveled for 22 hours straight in order to get back to Columbus.
The decision to sign with Ceske Budejovice wasn’t easy for Prospal and his family, who stayed behind in Columbus. Prospal praised his wife for being supportive of his decision to continue playing in Europe, but admitted it was hard to be away from his kids for such a long time.
“I have a great job, but those are the moments that you’re never gonna get back,” Prospal said.
Although it was a sacrifice for him and his family, Prospal said he doesn’t regret choosing to sign with Ceske Budejovice.
“It was the right decision to be made at that time, because quite honestly, I cannot imagine the shape I would be in or how I would look if I did not play these three months.”
With such a quick turnaround to get ready for the season, staying in shape was vital for Prospal, who said these morning skates are nothing compared to what is in store for training camp and the season.
“They’re not extraordinary drills, these are drills we do in any practice. This is basically refreshing,” Prospal said.
“If you haven’t done anything until this point, you’re not going to catch up.”