Edinburgh’s ice hockey hero who tackled crazed bomber

Jaroslav Cesky
Jaroslav Cesky
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The word “hero” is often bandied about in the world of professional sport, but, for Edinburgh Capitals new boy Jaroslav Cesky, such a description is fully merited.

Eleven years ago, the Czech ice hockey forward came to the aid of police officers and foiled a crazed individual’s attempt to blow up a Prague underground station. Cesky, then a 24-year-old student, was waiting to meet friends at one of the city’s busiest stations, when a man wielding a knife attached to a three-foot long pole started throwing homemade explosive devices at terrified commuters.

“It was 6pm on a Friday, the day before my birthday,” recalled Cesky. “A guy with a knife started throwing explosives in the subway station, and there was a noise like someone was shooting a gun. Everyone was running away and, as I turned round, I saw him stab one of the passengers.

“There had been a thousand people there and suddenly there was nobody. I saw two cops and told them to come over, they had guns but didn’t take them out and suddenly one of the cops was stabbed. A female officer was left holding her club. I got over there and grabbed the guy and held him to the ground, and the two of us managed to get handcuffs on him.”

Whilst grappling with the culprit, 53-year-old Alexander Kruchinin, Cesky was sprayed in the face by a substance from a plastic tube. He discovered later the tube was an activation device for explosives found at the scene, which if detonated, were powerful enough to have destroyed the station.

Cesky added: “It all happened so quickly, the cop who I had told to come over died. It was a terrible incident and, as a result, there was a complete change to the way police in the Czech Republic are trained to deal with incidents like that. The guy who did it was a Russian who had been working in Prague illegally. He just went nuts and committed suicide in prison two weeks later.” Later that year, Cesky received the Czech Republic’s Medal of Honour for Heroism. “I was just a student at the time,” he said. “They made a big deal of me and I was given a medal. I was supposed to receive it from President Vaclav Havel, but my parents collected it for me because I had returned to the United States to study.”

Now 35, Cesky has signed on a temporary contract to cover for injured Capitals captain Martin Cingel. He has never played a professional game in his home country, but has enjoyed an 11-year career in America, France and the UK.

As Cingel recovers from an upper body injury, Cesky admits he does not know how much longer he will be at Murrayfield, but will definitely be in the line-up for Edinburgh’s trip to Coventry Blaze tomorrow as well as the visit of Fife Flyers on Sunday. He said: “I’ve only played three games and nothing’s been discussed about the future or how long I will stay.

“Cingy will be back soon, but I don’t know if Richard (Hartmann) or Scott (Neil) are interested in keeping me.”

Edinburgh are on a seven-game losing streak. “Coventry will be a tough game for us – I played against them this season with Cardiff and they won 3-1 – but we just need to go down there and do the best we can,” said Cesky. “It’s frustrating as our last three games have all been really close, but we’ve zero points to show for it. Another goal here or there and we could have been looking at six.”