Welcome guest writer Colton Pankiw! Colton currently writes for the Hockey Writers and Yahoo Sports NHL.
The San Jose Sharks are in Prague and getting set to play in the 2022 NHL Global Series, and nobody is more excited than Tomas Hertl.
Teammate Nick Bonino joked during morning skate: “When Tommy Hertl gets excited, he talks really fast. And he’s been talking extra fast this week, so he’s pretty pumped to be here.”
The irrepressibly sunny Czech forward will get to play in his country for the first time since the 2012-13 season. Things have changed dramatically since that time. From a hockey standpoint, the 28-year-old has gone from being a highly-touted prospect to an NHL star. From a personal standpoint, he is now married with a son.
As much as the trip to Prague for the San Jose Sharks is about playing hockey and bonding with teammates, it also provided a great opportunity for Hertl to make a lasting memory with his family. That was the case for Hertl, who was able to take his son Tobias on the ice Thursday afternoon. In fitting fashion, his parents were in attendance to watch, likely reminiscing similar moments they had with their son many years ago. It is clear that this opportunity has meant the world to all of them.
“It’s awesome, to get family and my son on the ice. He can experience being there with me. Nothing is more special,” Hertl said yesterday. “I think even for my wife and parents to see me with my son on the ice was a special moment. Really happy they can see the games in Prague.”
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 7, 2022
And it’s meant the world to Hertl’s many Czech fans to see their hero up close. There were a few thousand fans at practice to watch the San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators yesterday. At practice.
Hertl flashed his mega-watt smile when asked about this afterwards: “I never had practice with a lot of people like that, and it was just a great feeling. You’re coming home after 10 years when I used to play in Prague. Now you’re playing for the Sharks, and there’s so many kids cheering, cheering for us. It was an absolutely great experience.”
Hertl and Simek step onto ice to hearty applause pic.twitter.com/zt7EJApMG5
— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) October 6, 2022
The first of those games, as Hertl alluded to, will take place at 8 PM CET and 11 AM PT today, while the second will occur just 24 hours later. Facing off against the Sharks will be the Nashville Predators, a team that made the Western Conference playoffs last season with 97 points. Suffice to say, picking up wins in either contest won’t come easily, but you can bet the Prague crowd will be doing everything they can to provide momentum to Hertl and his teammates.
Expect home-ice advantage for the Sharks: They have Prague’s prodigal son in Hertl, and Radim Simek, from nearby Mlada Boleslav. The Predators aren’t icing any Czechs.
“I can’t even wait for tomorrow’s game,” Hertl beamed.
Welcome home, boys…
Vítejte doma 🥺🦈🇨🇿 pic.twitter.com/wq3Y5plEk2
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) October 6, 2022
Sheng’s Travel Fund
Help fund Sheng's travel! Every dollar goes to the cost of getting to and from Sharks road games.