I know Mr. President was much appreciated by people all around the world and there's no doubt he was the most famous and most respected Czech of our time. He was a symbol of what happened in the Czech Republic following November 1989. He was the face and the motor of the Velvet Revolution.
As a speaker of the younger generation, I can say we have to be thankful to him for giving us freedom and opening the borders for us.
I had the rare opportunity to meet him in person many times and it was always very inspiring for me. I respected him very much. One of the encounters took place in the White House, but he also visited Madison Square Garden a few times when I was playing with the New York Rangers.
I'll never forget his welcome after we won the gold medal for the Czech Republic at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. He received us in the gardens of his Prague villa right after we got off the plane from Japan. It was an amazing experience.
Vaclav Havel's death is a big loss for us all. And, unfortunately, it is common that you do not realize how important someone is to you until he dies...We will all miss him.