After 24 years as a professional hockey player 43-year-old forward Pavel Patera has decided to hang up his skates, leaving behind a playing career that includes five international and three league titles.
Five months older than fellow Kladno native Jaromir Jagr, Patera never made the Czechoslovak teams at the World Juniors and had his Extraliga debut with HC Kladno only as a 20-year-old. But it wouldn’t take long for him to launch an exemplary career as a late-bloomer.
In his third season Patera already notched 75 points in 54 games and became the league’s scoring leader. One year later he played his first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and two years later in 1996 he became World Champion for the first time giving the pass for Martin Prochazka’s game-winning goal with 19 seconds left in the final against Canada.
Patera moved on to play abroad, first for AIK Stockholm. He was then on the Czech team that sensationally won gold at the first Olympics with NHL participation in Nagano 1998. Again he set up the championship-clinching goal with the first assist when Petr Svoboda scored the only marker in the 1-0 victory over Russia.
For 1998/1999 he returned to the Czech Republic and won his first national title with HC Vsetin followed by another World Championship before signing an NHL contract. However, after two seasons with 32 games for the Dallas Stars and the Minnesota Wild he returned to play in several European leagues.
He became Russian champion with Avangard Omsk in 2004 and Swedish champion with Farjestad Karlstad in 2006. And he won more World Championships including three in a row from 1999 to 2001 for a total number of four Worlds gold and two bronze medals in eight participations. In the 2001 World Championship he set up another championship-clinching goal when David Moravec scored the OT winner against Finland.
Patera also played in the 1996 World Cup of Hockey and in the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. He represented the Czech Republic in 197 international games scoring 48 goals.
Patera played most of the last 11 years at home for HC Kladno apart from the successful playoff stint in Sweden with Farjestad and the last season. After Kladno’s relegation in 2014 he moved to HC Olomouc for a year where he now chose to end his career, same as former national goalie Jiri Trvaj. In his last eight years he was captain both in Kladno and Olomouc.
He recently turned down an offer from another Czech team to start a new chapter in his life.
“I can confirm that I quit. I took the time to decide whether I will be able to prepare for the next season. But I was the whole year in Olomouc without my family and I want to change this,” he told Czech news agency CTK about his decision to return to Kladno – but this time not as a player.
Patera was one of the last players from the Nagano 1998 who were still active. Jagr and Martin Rucinsky, who has yet to decide about his future, are the others.
For now Patera wants to spend more time with his family while working on his coaching licence. His 14-year-old son Pavel is also a hockey player while his 19-year-old daughter Dominika has played two junior grand slams as a tennis player.
Also Patera Sr has dreams for his own future. His biggest is to be back with HC Kladno as a coach. “If there is interest in me,” he added.