Jaromir Jagr made his season debut with HC Kladno on Wednesday night, playing in front of 16,000 fans at the O2 Arena in Prague and recording an assist in his team's 3-2 loss to HC Slavia. Jagr is the owner of Kladno, as well as the general manager, and has been able to sign NHL players Tomas Plekanec, Jiri Tlusty and Marek Zidlicky to play with his team during the current NHL lockout.
What's interesting about the game is that the players were almost not able to make their debut Wednesday, without the help of the NHL. That's right, the league that has locked out the players and has helped create a situation where the NHL season is under threat of significant delay, went to great lengths at the last moment to ensure that Jagr and his teammates weren't going to be forced to cancel the game.
More after the jump.
The issue at hand was the ongoing processing of the international transfer cards needed in order for the players to take the ice overseas. According to Jagr, it took a late-night phone call to NHL vice president Brenden Shanahan to get things moving along.
"I have to say thanks to Brendan Shanahan who helped me a lot," Jagr said. "Shanahan did a great job and put Gary Bettman and Bill Daly on the phone, and eventually we were able to play."
There has been a lot of discussion and rhetoric about how evil the NHL has been in this whole debacle, with Allan Walsh saying the league would rather have the players sitting at home and doing nothing. Instead, the NHL was apparently more than willing to do what was needed to make sure these players could legally play this week in Europe.
It's yet another interesting twist in what has become an increasingly difficult situation to decipher, given the amount of vitriol being put forth from both sides.
The fans just want their hockey back. The rise in rhetoric being pushed forward from the players, owners and Bettman is growing tiresome. This was the season the Stars were supposed to feature Jagr, an exciting time for fans here in Dallas, and he knows just how frustrating this situation has been both for the fans and for the players.
"I'm very sad that this situation has happened," Jagr said. "I don't have many games left in the NHL, and it's kind of sad for me, but I understand it's for the future of the game.
"Everybody is going to lose - players, owners, and fans. I think hockey was going in the right direction, but it's kind of a tough fight when millionaires are fighting billionaires."
In the meantime, a few other Dallas Stars players could be headed overseas as well.
Tom Wandell is in talks to play for Severstal Cherepovets of the KHL, as far as I can gather from this online report. In it, Wandell said that he's intrigued about possibly playing with Niclas Bergfors and that he thinks it could be a good experience to play at the level of the KHL.
According to this story, Wandell is also considering playing with Timra of the SEL, and will make the decision of which team he'll play with by the end of the weekend. Wandell had previously played for Timra back in 2008-09, putting up 15 goals and 41 points in 51 games.
Loui Eriksson could also be headed to the SEL, where he is reportedly in talks to play for Frolunda. Eriksson played two season with Frolunda from 2003 to 2005, scoring 13 goals and 14 assists in 85 games.