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Behind Enemy Lines: Jaromir Jagr on Tomas Plekanec

The Panthers forward dishes on the Canadiens assistant captain

by Shauna Denis @canadiensMTL /

Despite engaging in some heated battles on the ice, opposing NHL players often forge enduring friendships away from the rink. We thought it might be interesting, then, to do some reconnaissance in the visitors' dressing room to get an occasional take on a Canadiens player from a friendly foe on another club. Today: legendary Czech All-Star Jaromir Jagr on fellow countryman, Tomas Plekanec

You guys aren't just acquaintances - you're actually buddies, right? 
Yeah we are. I don't remember what year it was when we first met, but I hold a charity game every year in the summer and that's how we got close. We're also from the same city. 

How much chirping goes on between the two of you when you face each other these days?
That's not really my style, or his, really. We're good friends, so we'll acknowledge each other on the ice before a faceoff or something, but nothing anything aggressive.

What do you guys do when you're just hanging out together?
Nothing special, just everyday stuff. We'll go out to eat together and we skate together in the summer, but I played in Russia for a few years so we didn't see each other as much as we used to.

If you, Pleky, and his wife, Czech pop star Lucie Vondrackova, are all walking down the street together back home, who gets recognized first?
Oh, good question. I think me and Lucie would be recognized first - and then Tomas after that if he's lucky! (laughs)

Does Pleky ever have to pay when he comes to your restaurant in Prague? 
No, but the restaurant is actually closed now, so maybe that's why. (laughs)

Who's funnier - you or him?
Me, for sure.

Who's the better dresser?
Me, for sure again. That's not even a tough one!

We know Pleky is early for everything; are you just as punctual, or are you one of the late guys he's always complaining about?
Well, when I was younger I was definitely always one of the guys who was late for everything. I've gotten a lot better with age and now I'm always on time, but I can't get mad at people for being late like Pleky does because I was just as bad.

Pleky has his turtleneck and you had your hockey hair; who has the better signature look?
I don't like the turtleneck; I think it's weird. (laughs) I don't have the hair anymore, but back in 1990 it was the style. My look was definitely better. 

Could Pleky pull off your trademark, flowing locks? 
Well it's not a style for everybody, but I think it would be funny to see. I definitely won't be trying his turtleneck look, though!

Have you ever caught him practicing your patented "salute" goal celebration?
(laughs) No, and he better not!

Any dirt you can give us on him?
Well, he and his wife actually met at my charity game, so he definitely owes me one for that!

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