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Paul Stastny celebrates 40th anniversary of father’s defection

Updated August 25, 2020 - 2:07 pm

Paul Stastny texted his father, Peter, on Monday wishing him a happy anniversary. The Golden Knights center was a day early.

“He corrected me, ‘No, no, no, it was early in the morning on this day,’” Paul Stastny said on a videoconference call.

Aug. 25 remains an important date in hockey history, and Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of the daring defection from the former Czechoslovakia by Anton and Peter Stastny.

Rather than getting on the bus after a late-night team dinner at the 1980 European Cup championship, the Stastny brothers jumped in a red Mercedes that rushed them and Peter’s wife, Darina, from Innsbruck, Austria, to Vienna.

The three were escorted to the Canadian embassy and landed in Montreal that evening. Anton and Peter Stastny signed with the Quebec Nordiques the following day, and older brother Marian joined a year later.

Peter Stastny went on to win rookie of the year in 1981, and earned the nickname “Peter the Great.” He finished his career with 1,239 points and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1998.

During the decade of the 1980s, only Wayne Gretzky had more points than Peter Stastny.

More important, the Stastnys blazed the trail for Eastern European hockey players in the NHL.

“Anyone that doesn’t understand it, I think (it’s) someone taking a risk to leave his family and then taking a chance with his wife that was nine months pregnant just to give us, myself and my brother and my two sisters, a chance to live in freedom and do what we want,” Paul Stastny said.

“We count our blessings every day. I think (Peter) counts his blessings every day, and if you ask him and you ask Anton and the wives — my aunt and my mom — I think it was the biggest and best decision they ever made.”

Krebs close to debut?

Forward Peyton Krebs, the team’s first-round pick in 2019, was spotted taking warmups before Game 5 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against Chicago.

But coach Pete DeBoer said that wasn’t a ploy.

Krebs, 19, continues to impress the coaching staff while working with the Knights’ taxi squad in Edmonton, Alberta.

“If you’re dressed for warmup, then there’s a chance that you might play,” DeBoer said. “I think he’s made a big impression on us through camp.

“If he dressed in warmup, it wasn’t to give a young guy the thrill of an experience. It was because he’s worked his way into a spot where we would stick him into the lineup if we got to a point where we had to.”

Sweat shop

Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt logged a team-high 17:40 of ice time through the first two periods of Game 1 against Vancouver, including 9:02 in the opening period.

And with some added humidity in Rogers Place, Schmidt apparently needed some extra deodorant to combat the extra perspiration.

“Usually I don’t go through my shirt in the first period. But it was hot,” Schmidt said. “The first period, I was leaking.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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