Accompanied by his wife, Anatoly Bardin, the successful general manager of the Russian hockey club Avantgard Omsk, visits the famous spa town of Karlovy Vary year after year. The man who in the late spring persuaded the top Czech player, Jaromir Jagr, to remain loyal to the Russian Omsk for the following season, regularly stays at the Carlsbad Plaza: "I love comfort, tranquility and tidiness, and besides, everything is so elegant around here! This is our fourth season to stay at your hotel," smiles the powerful man of Russian ice hockey.
Can you ever rid your mind of hockey?
"Very seldom, I regret to say. Even here, at the spa, I keep re-thinking the selection of our players and their interaction with the coaches etc... These thoughts come and go quickly but they are there. Luckily, Carlsbad, the Carlsbad Plaza Hotel and its unique Spa helps me relax allowing me to effectively deal with these issues."
What do you seek in Carlsbad - healing springs, Becherovka or Czech beer?
"It is no secret that I enjoy a little beer and Becherovka in my free time. However, in all the times I have visited Carlsbad, I have never tasted a single beer. My sole treats are the spa springs."
What's your favorite ice-hockey moment?
"That would certainly be winning the Russian championship, where we became champions on foreign ice in Magnitogorsk. I promised the players I would light a cigar right on the ice if we won. Then, just a minute before the end, we could not find any matches to light that cigar. This was a truly memorable moment and I'll always remember it."
Tell us something about Jaromir Jagr.
"I can only speak well of Jagr, as a hockey player and as a person. He's a real icon, a model, not only in Czech, but the ice-hockey world in general. All his steps are thought through, he is calm and he works hard at training sessions and in his life without the need for someone to push him. His entire life, diet, sleep, housing; it's all dedicated to hockey. That's why he is still in great condition, despite his 38 years of age. He proved to be an excellent player at the World Championship in ice hockey. If all our young men tried to follow Jagr and had some of his talent, they would go a long way."
How do you rate this year's final between Czech and Russia at the World Cup in Germany?
"I can only say one thing: The Czech team had luck on its side. Jaromir Jagr played a very positive role after their defeat with Norway, by expressing himself harshly outside the locker room and directly to the press about the Czech players who did not participate in the championship. This was a boost to the guys in the team who had no prior merit in ice-hockey. From my viewpoint, this was the championship's turning point. Victory belongs to the strongest and your team won deservedly. I did have to explain back in Russia, though, why I trained players in Omsk, who in the end defeated the Russian team..."