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Petr Čech joins semi-professional ice hockey team on part-time basis, and everyone loses their minds

The death of common sense


Am I doing this right?

To be clear, the Guildford Phoenix are a semi-professional club playing in the fourth and lowest tier of the British ice hockey system. They are the junior team for the Guildford Flames, and Čech will only play part-time for them. Think of it as Sunday league hockey. (Guildford is a town in Surrey. Cobham, where Chelsea’s training grounds are, is also in Surrey. Many players and staff also live in Surrey. Surrey is a county, which is part of the South East region, which is part of England, a country that is part of the sovereign state that is the United Kingdom. Basically, he lives nearby.)

If you were paying attention back in late August, he had already been practicing with them, as he posted on his Instagram account. He’s now set to make his debut this weekend.

In Petr Čech’s home country of the Czech Republic (once part of Czechoslovakia), football is not king. Hockey, as in ice hockey, rules the sports landscape. (Technically, he and I were both born in the same country, barely a month apart, though that cobbled together union no longer exists as of 1993. Not that you care, but I do.)

When young Petr was growing up, and already showing great promise as a goalkeeper, he had a choice to make between football and hockey. Luckily for us, he chose the former, and the rest is history. But now he’s retired from playing, which means he’s got time for hobbies in addition to his full-time job as the Chelsea technical director advisor. We already know that he’s big into playing the drums, but apparently he also wants to keep active. So what’s a fella who’s good at goalkeeping from a big hockey nation to do? Playing goalie of course! For a semi-professional hockey team on a part-time basis.

“I am delighted to have the opportunity to play with the Phoenix to get the match experience. I hope I can help this young team to achieve their goals for the season and try to win as many games as possible when I have the chance to play. After 20 years of professional football this is going to be a wonderful experience for me to play the game I loved to watch and play as a kid.”

-Petr Čech; source: Chelsea FC

Yesterday’s announcement by the Guildford (Junior Ice Hockey Club) Phoenix that they had signed Petr Čech caused a rather hilarious amount of confusion and overreaction. Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by that. That’s just what the Internet does. Some people had even thought he had left Chelsea.

No, seriously. Petr even had to issue a clarification. We’re truly just a few steps away from the death of common sense and full-on Idiocracy at this point.

“Some people seem to think I changed my job.No I didn’t. Luckily my job as the Technical and Performance adviser at Chelsea FC doesn’t stop me in my spare time from playing the game I loved as a kid and which I’ve been playing for years.While being professional footballer I couldn’t play the games for obvious reason ... now I can.”

-Petr Čech; source: Instagram

So anyway, best of luck to Petr, the 37-year-old part-time goalkeeper for a junior hockey team in the semi-professional bottom division of British ice hockey.

They really should’ve painted his old rugby cap onto his new goalie mask.

P.S.: Čech mentions briefly the Nagano ‘98 Olympics, the first to feature NHL players, as a defining memory for him. I was living in the USA by then, but it’s something that I distinctly remember as well, especially as it starred two of my favorite hockey players of all time, Dominik Hašek and of course Jaromír Jágr.

There’s a really excellent documentary on the whole story called ‘The Nagano Tapes’, which you can watch for free on the official Olympic Channel.

P.P.S.: Čech isn’t a complete rookie by any means. He laced up the skates for his friend Martin Havlat’s testimonial a couple years ago, for example.

PPPS.: I saved the best for last. Hope you made it this far. You’ll thank me later. Or not.

Back in 2010, a 28-year-old Čech, fresh off of winning the Premier League with Chelsea, and a 45-year-old Dominik Hašek, who had retired from the NHL but was still playing back home with HC Pardubice and leading them to the Czech Extraliga title, agreed to pose together for an “unconventional” food? calendar photoshoot/project dreamt up by Czech artist Petr Jachnin. The photos, taken by a famous Czech photographer named Josef Ptáček, are amazing. You can ... check ... out the whole gallery here.

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