Czech Mates – Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek Share Special Bond

Photo: Chocolate Chirps

Prior to Saturday night’s game, I requested a tandem interview with Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek, recalling that in April, Vanecek seemed a little nervous doing an interview with members of the media. I figured handling two 20-year-olds together would ease his anxiety a little. So when I emerged from the post-game presser with Troy Mann and the two were in the corner already laughing, I should have immediately reassessed that thought. 

Speaking to Jakub, thinking Vitek would rely on him for translation more than not, I quickly explained that I was working on a piece for Nova Caps about the Capital prospects and wanted to ask a few quick questions and that if Jakub would translate to Vitek and answer I’d let them hit the showers.

There was another quick look, but I still figured this would be no big deal.

I initially asked when and where they began playing hockey.

Vrana looked up from the floor and said, “Oh are you asking me or him?”

I replied that I would like to know for both, so he answered “I started to play hockey in Prague for a small club when I was 5-year-old.”


Jakub Vrana during warmups Sunday. Photo by Julie Beidler.

Without any translation or hesitation, Vanecek chimed in, “I started when I was 5 in Prague.”

And then there was another look and laughter.

When asked about their favorite sport other than hockey, there was no hesitation for Vrana. “FIFA,” he said immediately. Vanecek chimed in, “Yes, soccer.”

At this point, I wondered if they had a plan that Vitek would just simply repeat whatever Jakub said. Both also admitted that if they were not playing hockey they would likely play soccer, and by that time I was pretty sure I was no longer in control of the interview.

When asked the best part of being in Hershey, their answers were similar again. “I would say hockey,” said Vrana. “Hockey is great here. I would say it’s the best in the AHL. It’s a nice little town. You can find whatever you need, so I would say it’s a great hockey town.”

After a bit of translation, Vanecek replied, “I would say the same.”


Vitek Vanecek before Saturday night’s game. Photo by Julie Beidler.

Vrana added, “And obviously it’s great that we can be here together,” which brought instantaneous agreement from Vanecek.

I did manage to stump them a little by asking what Caps/Bears fans might not know about them. After a minute, Vrana replied, “We are potentially brothers,” which brought lots of laughter from the duo before Vrana replied, “I have a sister; he has a brother.”

As they looked at each other for something more, Vrana stated, “We need to think a minute,” which brought on more laughter from the pair.

Finally, Vrana admitted that his favorite food was salmon. Vanecek replied, “My favorite is steak or salmon.”

Vrana asked, “Not too much different, huh?”

Vanecek replied, “We are brothers,” as the pair headed to the locker room laughing some more.


Off the ice – The “brothers” celebrate Vitek’s first win of the season. Photo by Julie Beidler

I walked down the hallway thinking still unsure if Vanecek had us fooled in April, had learned an enormous amount of English in 6 months, or they pulled a fast one. Heck, I still don’t know who was in control of the interview, but their friendship can be seen on the ice as well.

Sunday night, Vanecek won his first game of the season. Knowing the antics of the two the night before, I hurriedly searched for Vrana on the bench. After all of the others had cleared out of the goal crease, Vrana and Vanecek spent several seconds jumping up and down like a couple of kids celebrating in front of the camera crews. Seems like everyone is ready to document the antics of the Czech duo. Czech mate!

What the heck? Why not one more hug? Photo by Julie Beidler


By Julie Beidler

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6 Responses to Czech Mates – Jakub Vrana and Vitek Vanecek Share Special Bond

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