He is preparing for his jubilee, the final tenth of his career. The jubilee will be stylish for Petr Vrán (37) from Třinec. In the fight for extra-league gold, he will face Sparta Prague, which he captained in the past. And who got rid of him three years ago. “Sparta have changed during this time, but it’s still great to play against them,” the Steelman captain said. “Great team, quality players. We probably couldn’t have asked for a better opponent. It will be a top final.”
Petr Vrána played two and a half seasons at Sparta, and he also has extended family in Prague. He wore the jersey with the red S for the first time in 2016 after returning from Brynäs, Sweden. The first year he was assistant captain, then he got a captain’s check. He admits with a smile that he would still find things with the Sparta logo at his house.
“Caps, maybe,” he smiles. “Just recently the boy put on a Spartan cap as he prepared for basic Klasik training at Frýdek-Místek. We had to change the cap right away… The truth is that other little things with the Sparta logo will definitely be at home somewhere in those years.”
Although Vrána failed to achieve league success in Prague and ended there prematurely in the 2018/19 season in exchange for Roberts Bukarts, he does not remember his engagement with bitterness. He made the Champions League final with Sparta in 2017, and from a personal perspective his stats were clearly not bad. Just play! He failed to play even a single game with him from the Prague team.
In 2017, Sparta fell in the quarter-finals with Kometa 0: 4, a year later in the preliminary round with Liberec 0: 3. After a quick elimination, the players had to watch the remaining playoff games as a penalty. “We all knew those seasons at Sparta weren’t optimal,” Crow recalled. “Both from my side and especially from the team’s point of view. I also needed a change at that time and I was very happy to have a chance in Třinec. In a quality team that was already in the top echelons at the time. Yes, I already had in mind that great successes could be achieved with this team.”
For the steelworkers, the exchange of the 2018/19 season started was terno. Crow and Sparta were traded for Latvian striker Roberts Bukarts. In the native of Šternberk they acquired a personality, a leader and later a captain. “We got the title in the first season, it was a fantasy,” Crow agreed.
Steelworkers were an obvious choice for him. He says he had no other options. “What I remember is that we agreed with Třinec and there were no other elections.” He found himself in the Silesian foothills of the Beskid Mountains. It has a group, vibe and family feel to the club. “Třinec are in the final for the fourth time in a row, it’s a picture of the work that is done here,” says Vrána. “Even the character of the boys who have been chasing theirs from the start. And as the playoffs approach, he knows exactly what they want. They do what they have to do. It’s great to be able to be regularly in the final. Have a chance to compete for the title.”
Sparta also has big ambitions every year. He has been waiting for the title for 15 long years. Petr Vrána also admits that it is not easy to bear the pressure at a club in Prague. “The pressure is definitely there because Sparta are a historically very successful team,” says the Třinec striker. “She won the titles. Of course, it was a different time, the armband was set up differently, the competition in the league was not the same as today. It’s tough, the pressure is there. And “I would say that sometimes he’s not in the right place. Yes, it’s Sparta, the big club. In football as in hockey, Sparta should have the best places at the end of the season.”
While the Steelmakers have been in the battle for gold since 2018, Sparta made the final six years ago. In 2016, the Jandač team fell with Liberec 2:4 in matches. “It is possible that the experience of the finals is in our team and that it could play a lesser role,” admitted captain Crow. “But Sparta are very experienced and have great players who have been through a lot. Such a team will certainly be well prepared for the final.”
How many times in his life, as a former Sparta player, does he meet a club from Prague? Is it the subject of debate among friends or family? “I would say I meet her like anyone who watches sports,” smiles Crow. “That I played there? I don’t often come back to this, the little one doesn’t remember much about Prague, so we don’t talk much about Sparta with him. We do not enter into the conversation. So unless his son is wearing a Spartan hat…
The Raven’s Balance
Sparta Prague (2016-2019)
Trinec Steelworks (2019-2022)
2003: HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS – Hull Olympics series 3: 4 (LHJMQ)
2005: HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS – Rimouski Oceanic series 0: 4 (LHJMQ)
2010: VÍTKOVICE – Pardubice series 0: 4 (extra league)
2011: VÍTKOVICE – Třinec series 1: 4 (extra league)
2014: LION PRAGUE – Magnitogorsk series 3: 4 (KHL)
2015: KAZAN – St. Petersburg series 1: 4 (KHL)
2017: SPARTA – Frölunda 3: 4p (Hockey Champions League)
2019: TŘINEC – Liberec series 4: 2 (extra league)
2021: TŘINEC – Liberec series 4: 1 (extra league)