Lightning forward Vinny Prospal will share a daily diary while the team is in Europe, including his native Czech Republic. The team will play a season-opening series in Prague against the Rangers on Saturday and Sunday.
Sunday was a long but interesting day as we played the first game of our road trip, an exhibition game at Berlin. We beat the Eisbarens 4-1 after they took a 1-0 lead over us after the first period. The wider European rink created some challenges for us and we needed to get a bit used to things. Once we got a bit more comfortable, I feel we settled down and did our job in scoring four goals over the last two periods to get the win. Olie (Kolzig) got 34 saves; our goalies keep playing well.
Lots of travel for us as we left Prague in the morning, flew to Berlin, beat the Eisbarens, then flew to Bratislava, Slovakia. It was a hectic day for us as our charter on Czech Airlines delayed us in the morning and delayed us in the evening. We had to start the game 30 minutes late because of the delay. The highlight of the quick trip to Germany for many was seeing some leftovers of the Berlin Wall that was right outside the arena. The O2 Arena in Berlin was built in what used to be East Germany. The wall is on the East side of a river that runs through town. The other side of the river is what used to be West Germany. Pretty sobering to think of the way things used to be.
Speaking of the breakup of the Eastern European nations, we ended our day in Slovakia, which broke from the Czech Republic 14 years ago. This country used to be part of my homeland, the former Czechoslovakia, but it is its own nation now. Kind of odd for me. I haven't been here often; the most recent was a few years ago to play a charity hockey game in the summer. I think my teammates will like it here as it is another old and beautiful city, but as an indicator of how things are changing there is a McDonald's across the street from our hotel. The McDonald's is very new. The hotel was built in 1837.