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1) Today marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the #VelvetRevolution. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, this moment triggered a chain of events that would indirectly affect me in a myriad of ways. This #story is a bit rambling, but please hear me out…
2) First, let’s back things up to 3/31/90 - the final day of the #NHL regular season. I listened to the @penguins v. @BuffaloSabres on @KDKA 1020, as usual. But this was no ordinary game.
3) The #Pens needed a tie or win to advance to the playoffs. Also, #MarioLemieux was back in action for the first time in months. The stakes were high. I was 14 years old. This game meant the world to me. .
4) I distinctly recall listening to #MikeLange play-by-play from my bedroom. The #Pens were down by 1 goal going into the 3rd period. It didn’t look good. But miraculously Mario tied the game and it went into #OT!







#MichaelMichaelMotorcycle
5) Alas, only 1 min into #overtime, #UweKrupp broke my heart with a blue line #slapshot.



hockey-reference.com/boxscores/1990…

@hockey_ref

I cried myself to sleep that night, not realizing that in the ashes of this defeat were sown the seeds of future #yinzer glory.



#LetsGoPens
6) By losing this game the #Pens won the 5th overall pick in the draft. And who did they end up selecting but none other than #JaromirJagr, the first #Czechoslovakian #IceHockey player drafted by the @NHL w/o first having to illegally defect to the West.


@68Jagr #Throwback
7) Turns out the #VelvetRevolution ultimately brought a peaceful end to 41 years of one-party #Communist rule, and enabled #Czech citizens - including #Jagr - to travel freely beyond their home country.

#freedom #VelvetRevolution30
8) @emswift2 brilliantly covered Jagr’s incredible backstory in Oct.1992 @SInow. A fantastic read!!



si.com/vault/1992/10/…



#SportsIllustrated #HCKlando

#VelvetRevolution30
9) Jagr would go on to have a hall-of-fame caliber career, winning 2 Stanley Cups as well as a gold medal in the 1998 #winter @Olympics. He is widely celebrated as among the greatest #IceHockey players of his era, if not all time.







#CzechRepublic
10) Jagr scored countless mind-boggling goals over the course of his career. His 1991 playoff OT game-winner against the @NJDevils is my all-time fav. I saw it live on pirated satellite #TV at my buddy’s house:




THX @CodeH1975!


#PittsburghPenguins
11) Watching that highlight brings tears to my eyes. Nice assist by the ol’ 29er! I wonder if @philbourque29 mentions Jagr's goal in his new #book? Guess I’ll have to buy it to find out!



amazon.com/These-Walls-Co…



#letsgopens
12) Jagr was key to the success of the #Penguins in the early 90s, which led to a boom in the sport’s popularity across Western #PA and #WV. But the closest ice rink to me was an hour away. So my friends and I did the next best thing and started up our own roller-hockey league!
13) The prime of my high school experience was a mix of #Penguins watch parties and #roller #hockey games. We called ourselves the #Buckhannon Phantoms, secured sponsorship from a local bank, and even competed in #tournaments in #Pittsburgh. Those were indeed the days.
14) The notion that a bunch of rag-tag #WestVirginia hillbillies would cobble together a roller hockey team of our own is pretty nuts. And weirdly, I’m not sure any of it would have happened the way it did but for the arrival of Jaromir Jagr to #Burgh in 1990.
15) In a sense, this #story is a heartfelt “thank you” to an athlete who unknowingly had a meaningful, positive impact on my life and the lives of many others in my orbit back then. On this day in particular a classic Jagr #salute seems most fitting!



#VelvetRevolution30
16) But this #story is also a celebration of the remarkable changes that happened 30 years ago in the former Soviet Union, which enabled Jagr and others to showcase their talents in the US. Without such liberalizing reforms, it’s hard to know where Jagr would have ended up.
17) In short - no #VelvetRevolution, maybe no Jagr in Pittsburgh. No Jagr in Pittsburgh, maybe no @penguins @StanleyCup. No Penguins Stanley Cups, maybe no new fans of #IceHockey in rural #WV. No new fans of ice hockey in rural WV, maybe no Buckhannon Phantoms roller hockey club.
18) I guess w/o the #VelvetRevolution I would've spent a lot less time at the local skating rink and a lot more time hanging out at @Hardees, all b/c the #Commies wouldn't let #Czechs freely exit their county to better their own lives and create value for others.
19) The older I get, the more I look back at my life and realize that so many of the joys I’ve experienced were ultimately the result of forces and factors completely beyond my knowledge and control.
20) If there’s a lesson here, I suppose it’s that - IMO - there’s generally a positive relationship between freedom of movement and overall happiness in society. This relates to some of the debates we’re having in America today, but that’s another thread for another day.*
21) *Time permitting, here's a nice overview on the topic of #immigration:


mercatus.org/publications/t…

@DanielGriswold @mercatus #economics
22) For now, I hope this #tweetstorm reminds people about the importance of openness and tolerance, and the lasting - often tangential and unknowable - impact human beings can have on each other when we’re free to live out our lives peacefully and to the fullest.
23) BOTTOM LINE: The anniversary of the #VelvetRevolution is worth celebrating today. It truly changed the world in ways both large and small. And in a roundabout way it even improved the lives of some podunk hockey kids in rural #WestVirginia so cheers to that, too!

#freedom
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