PILSEN, Czech Republic — Pavel Francouz had his day with the Stanley Cup on Friday and the Colorado Avalanche goalie is already thinking about doing it again.
“You want more, you want to experience that again and again,” Francouz said. “And I believe we can. We will be strong again, will have a chance to repeat. It would be great to win it again. If we play like we did this year, we would certainly have a chance.”
Francouz’s public celebration with the Cup was held at the Pilsner Urquell Brewery, which brews one of the world’s most famous lagers. More than 1,000 fans braved the mid-90s temperatures to get a photo of Francouz and the Cup.
“The Pilsner Brewery is an iconic place for the people of Pilsen, and I am glad I can celebrate here,” he said. “I grew up in Pilsen, and beer is connected with joy.”
Francouz arrived with the Cup on his knees in an old US Army Jeep that had a US flag on one side and an Avalanche flag on the other. The US liberated Pilsen and Western Bohemia in 1945.
He resisted the urge to eat local delicacies out of the Cup, sticking with the famous lager.
“I am enjoying it very much. I was able to celebrate with my family and the closest ones first, we had breakfast with the Cup,” Francouz said. “Yet I did not eat anything from it, although I know some guys put goulash, halusky (a dish made of noodles or dumplings popular in the region) or porridge inside. I chose a different approach.”
The 32-year-old was the backup to Darcy Kuember During the Avalanche’s Cup run and played a huge role in Colorado winning its first title since 2001. He went 6-0 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2.81 goals-against average and .906 save percentage, including winning all four games in a sweep against the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference Final when Kuemper was injured.
Francouz is expected to share the goalie duties with Alexandar Georgiev This season after Kuemper signed a five-year contract with the Washington Capitals on July 13. Georgiev was acquired in a trade with the New York Rangers on July 8.
It’s the first time the Cup was in the Czech Republic since September 2021, when then-Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ondrej Palat brought it to his hometown of Frydek-Mistek and forward Jan Rutta had it in Pisek and Prague.
It’s the third time the Cup has visited Pilsen; Petr Sykora had it there in 2000 as a member of the New Jersey Devils and in 2009 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I believe this event will be fun,” Francouz said. “Maybe it can help bring young kids to play hockey and give them the dream that they can bring the Cup back here one day too.”
On Saturday, the Stanley Cup will visit Augsburg, Germany, about two hours away from Pilsen, for forward Nico Sturm‘s day with the Cup.
“You dream about winning the Cup and when it actually happens, it is a feeling you cannot describe,” Francouz said. “[The Cup] is a huge part of hockey history and just to hold it in my hands is a great honor for me. I approach it as if I was holding my own child.”