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Hockey player Milan Hnilička speaks about life, sports and his candidacy into the Czech chamber of deputies.

Fast confession – Hockey Player Milan Hnilička: Babiš is my Ally

Michaela Vraná
21.Aug 2017
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5 minutes

What made a hockey player to go into politics, and why do his daughters make him worry? The famous hockey player will discuss these as well as other topics in his interview for Luxury Prague Life.

Milan Hnilička
Milan Hnilička
Milan Hnilička

You’re entering into politics. What led you to that decision?

I’ve worked with youth within the Czech Ice Hockey Association, and when I see the physical prowess of our youngest ones, it’s very bad. Often times, kids don’t even know how to do a front roll… within hockey, we do our best to lead children comprehensively and create a positive relationship with sports, but the first signal must come already from kindergartens and elementary schools. The status of physical education today is, basically, catastrophic. The infrastructure of sports grounds is a chapter in on itself. The state hasn’t clearly defined how many we have and what is their property structure… it constantly kept bugging me, and at some point I decided to add a helping hand and connect with people who have a similar opinion and want to improve the situations in sports. About one year ago, I met Mr. Babiš, who supports sports. We found out we had similar opinions on the matter and decided to prepare a proposal detailing how I’d like to see things work out. Now, this autumn, I’m ready to run for the chamber of deputies on behalf of ANO as an independent. I want to support sports in the Czech Republic.

Aren’t you afraid to enter into politics?

No. I don’t have anything to lose. I come with a fresh slate and a strong conviction. Here, I have a great job at the Czech Ice Hockey Association. I consulted the matter with Mr. Král (ed. note: the president of the Czech Ice Hockey Association), who knows how I work and that I really like it here. However, he has a similar opinion on the situation with sports in the Czech Republic and supports me. If it weren’t for his support, I’d not go for it. But I’m not doing it to help hockey, but to be part of a team which will create a support system for sports as a whole. A system with clear rules and transparent financing.

Andrej Babiš is a fairly controversial person. Some hate him, others wish him luck. Do you mind the negative feedback he sometimes receives?

I have a positive relationship with him – even though I’ve only known him for a short while, we’re intensively collaborating and I know what he thinks of the situation in sports, and in that area I see him as a great ally. That’s the most important thing for me. Sport is my life. I’m not trying to be a macroeconomist.

Were you invited to his wedding?

No. That’s his private thing.

Luxusní byt s terasou 355m
Luxusní byt s terasou 355m, Praha 1

You ended your career in hockey in 2010 due to fatigue syndrome. Do you miss those times?

Not anymore. At the beginning I missed that, but now I have a different mission. Even though I’ve been looking forward for basically all of my life to the times after my career, when I thought I wouldn’t need to do anything other than play golf and spend time with my family, but I could only do that for less than a year – then I had to go back to work, because that’s simply how I am. I’m not the kind of person who could just relax without doing anything, that’s just not me. I’m happy when I have a vision, I need to be doing something, and that makes me happy.

And what don’t you miss about hockey?

What I don’t miss? Well, being a professional sportsperson means that you’re under constant pressure. Specifically, my position was such that whenever I made a mistake, it ended with a goal. That’s something I definitely don’t miss. But, paradoxically, I’m now running for a position where I’ll often be under pressure, but it’ll be something different and it’s a new kind of challenge for me.

When you started training as a hockey player, did you also want to play another position than the goalkeeper, or was it your first and clear choice?

I don’t remember it all that well. We came to hockey practice, I could play several roles, and in fact did several sports. Back then they had me as a goalkeeper and even my dad said that they should try me out as a goalkeeper. And I stayed there ever since. Back then, parents had a lot of influence.

What sports do you do now? How do you stay fit?

I don’t have much time now. Over the last three, four years, I have been very busy. But when I can, I go for a run or bike a bit. And my favorite are still ball games – golf, tennis. Running and biking is more of a necessity, to make sure I still fit in my pants. But I don’t consider those to be real fun, there are no goals or scores to keep.

Do you lead your children towards professional sports?

We do lead our children towards sports, but not to professional sports. My children tried out a wide range of sports. It leads them to respect duties, discipline. The girls played tennis, football, they bike, swim; ice hockey will be a natural choice only for our boy though. With my wife, we’re fairly tolerant as far as performance sports go, but on the other hand have high demands in school. My wife is a university graduate, I also had fairly good grades, and both of us believe that education is a fundamental thing.

Your daughters are now in puberty. Are you ready for the day they’ll introduce you to their partners?

I’m not prepared for that and in fact might never be. (laughter)

Luxusní vila na prodej Praha 5
Luxusní vila na prodej Praha 5, Praha 5

So you’ll be the father-in-law that their boyfriends will learn to fear?

Ideally, I won’t have to be a father-in-law at all. (laughter) I guess that answers that question!

What was it like back then, after Nagano? Did you feel like you could do anything?

I think hockey raises humble people. As far as the people I know go, the greater the star, the more humble they are. The players who were in Nagano, they were normal people, we enjoyed our time there. None of us really made a big deal about it. It was a great tournament, an excellent experience that I’ll keep for my whole life, but life (and the game) goes on.

Do you remember what did you buy for the money you won in Nagano?

No, but I do remember that with Franta Kučera we got a car from Mr. Charouz, a Ford Ka.

Do people on the street recognize you? Do you give autographs?

Depends. Children don’t know us much anymore, but parents sometimes do recognize us.

You just returned from vacation. Where did you go and with whom?

After my career, we still regularly go back to America. All our kids were born there, and we feel at home there.

What or who do you consider essential for your life?

I guess it’ll sound like a cliché, but I think I’d find it hard to go on without my family.

Do you like luxury?

I do enjoy nice hotels and high-quality things. But I grew up in a panel apartment house… I like sport… of course, when you play in the NHL, fly in private jets, sleep in the best hotels and go to excellent restaurants. In fact, I’d like to mention restaurants specifically, those I do enjoy. But I don’t think I’m one of those who really brandish luxury. I like a nice home, a clean, well-kept place to call our own. And I also enjoy all kinds of traveling.

What does money mean to you?

These aren’t my own words, but I’ve heard them from Lucie Bílá. Money, if used well, can give you freedom. That motto stayed with me. I think there’s a certain truth to it.

Fast confession:

Slavia, or Sparta?


Live in the Czech Republic or abroad?

In the Czech Republic.

Play hockey or be a hockey trainer?


Vacation – relaxing, or adventurous?


Would you want another child?


Expensive car or luxurious watch?

Expensive car.

Favorite band?


Which sport do you watch on TV other than ice hockey?


Jágr, or Dopita?

That’s easy, Jágr.

Andrej Babiš, or Miloš Zeman?

Andrej Babiš.

What kind of books do you read?

I don’t read books.

Politics or hockey?


Favorite movie?

That’s hard… 50 first dates.

Name your main positive trait.

The interviewee asks the interviewer:

Do you think professional sportsmen are stupid?

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