In Kometa, they created an axis of operation, which led the colossus from Brno to two titles in a row. One ran the cabin as a key striker, the other the whole club. Now Martin Erat (40) and Libor Zábranský (48) have met in the role of assistants to Finnish expert Kari Jalonen in the national team. Especially for iSport Premium, they met for a joint double interview, in which they remember the golden campaign, but also talk about the national team. “We must restore the desire to win,” they agree.
Between the two national team practices, they sat at a table and it was clear that they could talk about hockey for hours… “There are few people like Libor. You have to respect them,” says Martin Erat, captain of the Czech team at the Olympic tournament in Korea and junior world champion from 2001.
Coming back to a successful comet in Comet, what was the magic of your collaboration?
Erat: “Libor is the boss, he can manage it. He knows who people have where to be. How to give them a function and a role. We played to be able to win. I like his vision of hockey, that’s why let it work between us.”
Zabransky: “The team has been building for a long time, it’s not just that. The highlight was two titles, but five medals have been won in ten years. And now we are going through another reconstruction. Martin and I have seated humanely.”
How did you think of talking to him then?
Zabransky: “If we can, we want to hire the best players in the region. It’s also a question of character.”
Erat: “After my work abroad, my family and I thought that traveling was enough and we wanted to come home. I grew up in Třebíč, but Kometa was the club we all watched. And when I spoke in Libor, it was a clear choice for me.”
Zabransky: “The fact that my assistant at the time, Kamil Pokorný, knew him well, as well as Leoš Čermák, also helped a lot.”
You didn’t know each other personally, did you?
Erat: “Not that. But who wouldn’t know his name? It’s true that Kamil Pokorný and Leoš Čermák played a big role. We grew up together in Třebíč.”
Did you, Libor, have to understand Martin?
Zabransky: “Not at all. I was watching the Olympics, the World Cup, we could all see what a player he was. There was no doubt about hockey skills. But human qualities are also important to me. When I spoke to Martin in person, it was clear that we both had a common goal.”
How did he help you run the cabin?
Zabransky: “It just came to our knowledge at that time. Špeny (Erat) and Leoš (Čermák) achieved it, I only entered it when I felt internally that it was necessary. Sometimes with more of strength when I didn’t like something. But that was only exceptional. The best teams have their best players who are at such a level of character and morality that the others pull. They sacrifice themselves for the team , they don’t play selfishly.”
Erat: “Everything has its time, you have to sit down. But we knew we could come to Libor at any time. It’s always important for players to know they have their backs covered.”
The captain was Čermák, but you also found a great chemistry with him, didn’t you?
Erat: “It was easy with him. He likes the company, the neighborhood, I prefer to talk about hockey. It’s better for me when someone like me is sitting at a table. Libor is here, for example. And we play in hockey for 24 hours. That’s what I want to do. We sat perfectly in that.”
What was the basis of success?
Zabransky: “It was built on trust.”
Erat: “Libor feels he can choose the right people for the most important positions. That’s his greatest strength. Gradually the saddle. Mona Lisa didn’t paint a day either.”
Did you really feel like family? And the team also plays for you?
Zabransky: “When I played again, I did. When we were there, my duty was to coach. To lead the team to victory, so I don’t have much time to look around. But confidence was mutual. When after the game against Třinec, while we were defending the title, Marcel Haščák flooded me with an ionizer and ran past me laughing like a little boy, it was magnificent. But they also know that you pursue them and that you are there for them.”
When you arrived after years in the NHL, did you immediately realize that the Comet was in a position to win the title after fifty years?
Erat: “I only saw the names on paper, I didn’t really know what to expect at that point. Anyone can buy players, put them in a bucket and draw lots. But Libor had a flair for it. It took a long time to build. Look at, for example, what kind of players were there in the third row. And how they played! It’s the guys who win games, because the front rows look These are important details of the game.”
What was Libor’s greatest strength as a coach?
Erat: “He is…”
Zábranský (answers immediately): “Look, I’m going out for a while, okay? So you can say whatever you want.”
Erat: “I won’t say anything secret, don’t worry. The magic is that