Monday, November 29, 2004
Do these highlights make me look fat?
(Right-click and 'Save As' for best viewing)
1. Oilers forward Ales Hemsky is at it again with some shake-and-bake for his Pardubice club. With moves like this, he ought to become a dancer for Britney Spears' next tour.
2. Zdenek Smid commits some grand larceny with the glove as he robs Libor Prochazka of $parta Praha.
3. Nashville/Zlin forward Martin Erat scores on a lovely feed from Playmaker Smurf, Petr Leska.
4. Wings stalwart Jiri Fischer blasts a goal in his debut game with Liberec. This bomb turned out to be the game winner.
5. Dude! Radek Duda totally makes UBC alumni Robert Filc look like a beached whale with this gnarly combination play.
6. Martin Erat's brother Roman makes a deft deflection on a Patrik Elias feed for Znojmo.
Now for the stats update from yesterday's games...
Saturday, November 27, 2004
Dominik Hasek to Trinec?
Hasek will be part of the touring lockout stars that will play an exhibition game in Plzen on December 13th. After that tour is complete, Hasek and the other touring stars will be exploring their options if the lockout cancels the entire season.
Trinec GM Petr Husicka said nothing is concrete in these rumours, but Trinec is very interested in Hasek and has a chance to sign him in the lockout keeps up.
What is interesting is that Trinec's current head coach, Pavel Marek, was Hasek's teammate in 1987 and 1989 when Pardubice was winning Extraleague titles. I wonder how Hasek would like having a former teammate tell him what to do?
Now, I'm not a big Hasek fan (he is the face of evil, after all), but Trinec has always had goaltending issues and Hasek could very well carry them to the playoffs if his groin doesn't snap like a dry elastic band.
There also appears to be another option for Trinec: Roman Malek. The Flyers draftee is apparently on the outs from his Russian Club (Magnitogorsk) and Trinec may want to 'borrow' him from Slavia (who already have strong goaltending).
I hope the hockey gods aren't just playing with me (again), since this lines up some exciting possiblities for Trinec.
Weekend Update: Fisching for Tigers
1. Jiri Fischer made his long-awaited debut for the Liberec White Tigers and the wait was worth it as he scored the winning goal in a 3-0 pounding of Plzen. Ales Kotalik returned after a 6-week hiatus due to a knee injury, but was forced to leave in the 3rd period after experiencing even more pain in the same knee.
2. UBC (University of British Columbia) grad Robert Filc (son of Slovakian national team head coach Jan Filc) played his first ever game in the Czech Extraliga and let in 4 goals in 46 minutes of relief work. I believe Filc is the first ever Canadian University player to ever play a game in the Extraliga, but don't hold me to that. It's amazing to think anyone that came out of UBC could make it to any decent level of pro hockey in Europe or North America.
3. In case you were worried about those poor NHL players during the lockout, it seems the Canadians won't have to pay taxes on their lockout pay, according to this Sportsnet article. PHEW! For a minute, I thought these guys were just regular guys like you and me :)
4. Poor Lukas Mensator got shelled for 9 goals in a 9-2 loss to Vsetin. Karlovy Vary scored the first 2 goals, then let in the next 9! Mensator was left in net for the entire game, and didn't pull a Patrick-Roy "I'll never play for you again" rant.
5. After an initial spike in attendance, it looks like the Slovak Extraliga isn't really benefitting from the lockout as much as I expected. 4 of the 5 games from yesterday had attendance figures under 2,000! At least the Czech Extraliga has strong attendance with the long list of NHLers in their borders.
6. Andrew Ference to Budweiser City? There are some rumours that Ceske Budejovice (1st division team where Prospal, Dvorak, and Martinek are playing) wants to sign Andrew Ference to start with the team in December. I'll keep an eye on this.
Now, to the stats...
Btw, Somik had 2 assists and +1 in that 9-2 shelling of Mensator. I forgot to include his stats in the spreadsheet. D'oh!
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Money for Nothing; Cheques for Free!
Too good to be true?
Not if you’re a member of the NHLPA Guild!!!
The Province (our local parrot cage liner/newspaper) has details of the NHLPA’s lockout plan to help support the poor starving players and keep them out of the soup kitchens.
The NHL Players' Association will pay out between $29 million and $44 million US in lockout pay this season.
The payments will start this month with more than 730 players getting $10,000 each for November and another $10,000 for December.
Subsequent monthly payments will vary between $5,000 or $10,000. The NHLPA refused to detail the payment schedule but said the "initial" plan will cover the next 24 months.
Those numbers would work out to a minimum of $40,000 and maximum of $60,000 per player through April, although the maximum would likely not be reached.
Wow, I’d love to make that salary at my current job, much less make that money just for sitting at home while eating Doritos and watching soap operas.
The plan also specifies that each member of the NHLPA will earn the same lockout pay, which is really great news for the low-paid Juraj Kolnik’s of the world.
What irks me is that players such as Jaromir Jagr, who are earning millions in Russian oil money playing in Europe, are also going to get paid under this plan.
Sure, these players paid into the plan through their various NHLPA dues and merchandising, but it seems silly that the NHLPA feels the need to ‘support’ players who are currently doing quite well playing in Europe.
I don’t have a problem with players going to Europe while the NHL has locked them out, but I feel the money should really target the players who currently aren’t playing (Excluding the injured ones who get paid anyway) or fall into the lower half of the salary structure. I’m sure Jagr can really get along fine without an extra $10,000 this month.
The NHLPA has this plan in place for the next 24 months. This doesn’t mean that the NHLPA members will not get more anxious for a settlement. If you are a Mike Modano and you have a massive mortage to pay, $10,000 a month is not going to get it done for you.
Wednesday, November 24, 2004
Update Machine: My Christmas List
...is 2 Pardubice Ice Girls. If you were thinking of a Christmas gift for your favourite blogger, then this is the only one you need to look for :)
Now, for your update.
Bad news for Lubomir Visnovsky as he collided with Predators prospect (and 20cm taller) defenseman Richard Stehlik of HK Skalica and had to leave yesterday’s game just 5 minutes in. Reports indicate that he’ll miss a minimum of 4-6 weeks with a knee injury.
The biggest match of the day was a 0-0 draw between powers Zvolen and Trencin. I’m amazed that two high powered offenses couldn’t muster 1 goal between them,
Only 2 matches yesterday, with evil $parta Praha beating hapless Trinec and Hame Zlin pasting their Prague brethren from HC Slavia.
Tuesday, November 23, 2004
Is That a Threat, or a Promise, Mr. Lowe?
To which the rest of the world responded, "Like, oh my god! We totally gotta end the lockout now to, like, avoid a tragedy!"
Would Oilers fans really be upset if Lowe decided to quit? Why wait? Quit right now before you do any more damage, Mr. Lowe. Personally, I don’t think Kevin Lowe has done a good job and is the right man for the job. This was always a case of the Oilers ‘nepotism’ of hiring Ex-Oiler alumni...as if this would someway make the fans want to shell out $70 to see a sub-.500 hockey club.
Look, one of the primary reasons the NHLPA (Agents & Lawyers) have ripped a hole in the collective asses of the NHL owners for the past 10 years is basically due to the fact that many NHL clubs are run by unqualified people.
What qualifications does Kevin Lowe have to manage a multi-million dollar entity?
After his playing career, he was only a coach or assistant coach for 3 years before the Oilers made him their GM.
No formal post-seconadary training. No apprenticeship in management of any company whatsoever. No financial background. No background in business... you get the picture.
The guy isn’t qualified to manage a Dairy Queen, much less a professional hockey club.
Why would he quit such a great job (And after he signed a nice 4-year extension last year)?
"I would not do this job for another four years under what I just went through the last four years," Lowe told the Edmonton Journal.
"It was too difficult, too difficult emotionally, spiritually, psychologically."
Translation: "I’m in way over my head in this job, and I’m sick of looking worse than Michael Jackson on a humid Los Angeles Tuesday. If the NHL can’t come up with a strict financial system that makes my job 10 times more easier, then the Oilers should get someone more qualified."
Really, do you want the manager of your club to be saying that his job was too difficult? Inspiring, really...
Monday, November 22, 2004
Extraleague Update Machine: 11-22-04
The Hockey Rodent has all the sordid details.
Golden Helmet Time!
1. Zigo Palffy stickhandles through the Liberec defense, although he doesn't get much to show for his efforts.
4. Milan Hejduk rips a one-timer by Trinec roly-poly-goalie Martin Vojtek
5. Jiri Slegr jumps up into the play and has another nomination for his combination work.
6. The ex-Giant Robin Kovar is at it again with his buddies Tomas Vak and Tomas Demel. Vak and Demel have some of the most expressive goal celebrations in the league, as you can see by this clip. (Demel once tried to jump over the glass and into the crowd on one goal, only to fall down like a clown)
Roman Kadera: "Check out the one in the 3rd row with the pink shirt..."
Now, onto the stats...
Saturday, November 20, 2004
Weekend Update: SCORE one for the NHLPA
What is to stop the NHLPA from tracking the anonymous agent who logged into their system to look up NICK SCHULTZ? Methinks one unlucky agent is about to be de-certified.
Now, we learn that Bryant McBride has been decertified by the NHLPA Guild as they traced the access back to his office. It's not all over for him, though...
Sources say while the NHLPA has proof that the leak came from McBride's office, those who know McBride say it wasn't him and he will be working to clear his own name and attempt to regain his certification.
Perhaps a disgruntled employee? If only the NHLPA spent more time negotiating rather than guild tactics...
2. Pavel Brendlwatch - 'Timpe79' a Finnish hockey fan from the town of Joensuu reports about Pavel Brendl's first game with his new club:
Brendl scored his first goal in his first game and showed a keen 'Game-Eye'. His passing was good and the fans are happy to have him (at least for now).
On the downside, his skating is atrocious and Timpe79 suspects that is one of the major reasons Brendl can't make 'the leap' in the NHL.
Perhaps losing 20 pounds might lighten the load?
Demo goes 'roof' against Skalica
Zdenek Skorepa of Trinec rips it by Jan Lasak.
Now, onto the stats...
Thursday, November 18, 2004
Diamonds: A Hockey Player's Best Friend?
These championship rings just get gaudier with each passing year.
Just look at this puppy! All the West Coast Rappers ought to be jealous of this ‘Bling’. These monuments were given out in a little ceremony at the NHL offices. No grand ceremony for the Bolts in front of their fans, thanks to the Powers That Be.
"...believed to be worth between $15,000 and $20,000. Each ring has 138 diamonds - one for every point earned during the regular season and two for the 16 postseason victories. Each player's ring has his name, jersey number and the postseason series victories with the opponent's logo (4-3 over the Flames, 4-3 over the Flyers, 4-0 over the Canadiens and 4-1 over the Canadiens). Blue diamonds, a nod to the Lightning's major color, make up the Stanley Cup on the ring. Those diamonds were sent to Israel to be "radiated" - or make them blue."
Given how much time, blood, effort, etc goes into a Stanley Cup, you better milk it for all it’s worth. Still, I can’t imagine wearing that ring on one lone finger without the finger snapping like a stale graham cracker in the Georgia sunshine.
Wednesday, November 17, 2004
Back to the Action
1. The Pavel Brendl European Tour continues and his next stop is with the Finnish second-tier (Mestis League) team Joensuu Jokipojat. Let’s see if he can last longer than 2 weeks with his 4th (5th if you count Krefeld) club of the season.
2. Miroslav Zalesak, in a quiet and surprising move, decided to leave HK36 Skalica of the Slovak League and wound up with Chemopetrol Litvinov of the Czech League. This should allow Zalesak a higher level of play and it won’t hurt that he’s on a line with Robert Reichel. Zalesak had a bombastic debut with 2 goals in a 4-1 win.
3. Meanwhile, the Slovak League is looking quite barren thanks to the departures of Palffy (returned to Slavia), Zalesak, Strbak (to Russia) and Hossa (to Sweden).
4. Debutantes – Jaro Modry made his expected debut with Liberec, Ivan Majesky made his debut for Sparta Praha, and Frantisek Kaberle joined his brother in Kladno for their first game together.
5. The Yankee – There were 0 Americans and 0 Canadians (Because I’m not counting Petr Nedved as a Canadian) in the Czech Extraliga before the break. For cultural, monetary, and other reasons, there has rarely been a non-Slavic ‘Cizenec’ in the Czech League. That all changed with American Connor Dunlop joined Litvinov in his debut yesterday. Looking at Dunlop’s past stats, he was a solid college player who was never drafted in the NHL, and then played just 10 unproductive games in the ECHL last year. I’ll have to read up on this if I can find anything. At the very least, Dunlop had an assist on one of Miro Zalesak's goals.
6. Fight Card – Rostislav Klesla vs. ex-Sharks farmhand Robert Jindrich. This has got to be a record fighting year for the Czech Extraliga.
Now, for the stats…
Since the detailed boxscores aren’t on the main site, here are the basis:
Pavol Demitra and Marian Gaborik were held pointless in a surprising 4-1 loss to Liptovsky Mikulas.
Radoslav Suchy did not play in a 2-2 tie between Poprad and Skalica. As mentioned before, Palffy and Zalesak are now both in Czechia.
Visnovsky, Nagy, and Bicek were held pointless in a 1-0 Slovan Bratislava beating of Kosice.
In a 4-2 Zloven victory over Zilina, Vladimir Orszagh had 2 goals (including the game winner), while Zednik and Handzus each had 2 assists (on both Orszagh goals, of course).
Tuesday, November 16, 2004
Sidney Crosby: It's always about the Money!
According to an unconfirmed report by Sportsnet, Sidney is set to sign a very lucrative endorsement deal with Reebok/CCM:
Sidney Crosby is expected to sign a multi-year endorsement deal worth in excess of $1-million with Reebok / CCM, Sportsnet has learned. It will be his most significant endorsement to date. Crosby is already affiliated with Sherwood Hockey Sticks and Extreme Hockey Cards. The Rimouski star will join the likes of Vincent Lecavalier and Joe Thornton, who are already linked to Reebok / CCM.
I know quite a few of the ‘purists’ are crying in their beers about that fact that a pimply teen is going to be paid some big G’s before he’s ever laced up a pair of NHL skates, but I think this is great news! Reebok spent $202 million to buy CCM/Koho, so they obviously have the desire to pump a whole lot of cash into their hockey ventures.
One of hockey’s biggest problems (and there seem to be many) is the lack of marketing the NHL has done for its product, its teams, and especially its marquee players.
If an outside company like Reebok wants to splash a cool million and put Crosby in the spotlight, then I’m all for it.
Wayne Gretzky was quoted as saying that he believes Sidney Crosby could break his scoring records. Now, we know that will never happen, but the Crosby-Gretzky comparison could be valid.
What other NHL player has ever had any star-power reach outside of the core hockey circles in the USA? Federov? Kovalchuk? The only European athletes that North Americans care about are female tennis players and metrosexual soccer stars.
If Crosby gets a lot of hype and he performs like the scouts dream of, then perhaps he can be the second NHL player to gain some notoriety amongst the ‘unconverted’
Monday, November 15, 2004
The White Tigers: They're GRRRRRRRRRRREAT!
After World War II.: There were three teams in Liberec
1956: Two organizations merged to form "Lokomotiva Liberec"
1961: Team name was changed to "Stadion Liberec"
60's to 90's: Team played in and bounced between the 1st and 2nd divisions.
1995: The team advanced to the First Division and never looked back.
2000: The organization identity changed to "White Tigers". The goal of the organization was to earn promotion to the Extraleague in the following seasons.
2002: Team advanced to the Extraleague, winning the ‘barrage’ series over Kladno.
2003: Team finished in 12th place.
2003: Team finished in 11th place. The aim for next season is to secure a playoff spot.
Milan Hnilicka will be the main trump card and allurement for the fans this season in Liberec. The engagement of this Olympic champion helps Liberec address a major issue they had last season: Goaltending problems.
The White Tigers also reinforced the other positions, thanks to an 80-million crown increase in their budget, as to not repeat the disappointment of missing the playoffs.
Along with Hnilicka, the White tigers signed forwards (ex-Canuck) Lubomir Vaic from Magnitogorsk, Jan Tomajko from Sparta Praha, Igor Rataj from Znojmo, and Andrej Podkonicky from overseas. The defense was fortified with the additions of Miroslav Duben from Pardubice and Angel Krstev (who returns from a one-year term in Litvinov).
Thanks to the NHL lockout, Liberec was able to secure the service of NHLers Jiri Fischer (Detroit), Radim Vrbata (Carolina), Vaclav Nedorost (Florida), and Ales Kotalik (Buffalo). Jaroslav Modry (LA/Atlanta) has also agreed to join the club in the near future.
The 2004-05 will be the last one for Liberec in their old ice hall. Next season, the Tigers will play in a new, modern ice hall, which is currently under construction.
SO FAR, SO GOOD:
After a hot start, and before the onset of some recent injuries (and a flu bug which caused a game to be rescheduled), Liberec finds itself currently in 6TH place with 33 points. If they can halt their recent slide and hold off some hard charging teams, they just might reach their goal of a playoff entry. At the very least, they have no fear of being relegated back to First Division abyss. The fans have been very happy, as they have been averaging about 4,400 fans a game (90% of capacity).
Ales Kotalik – 11GP 5-4-9 +3, 30PIM
Kotalik-Nedorost-Vrbata were all playing together on the same line until injuries dropped them like so many dominoes. Kotaltik was the real star of the line with a near point-a-game pace.
Radim Vrbata – 19GP 5-7-12 +7, 12PIM
The current Hurricane has been recently playing on a line with team scoring leader Lubomir Vaic while his usual two linemates have been injured.
Milan Hnilicka – 16GP, 9-7-0, 1SO, 2.80GAA, 91.28% and 25PIM
Hnilicka, who was basically stuck in the AHL almost permanently after stints with Atlanta and LA, has probably gone back to Czechia for good. Hnilicka hasn’t been a godsend for Liberec this year, and he’s currently 14th in the Extraliga in goaltending stats. Still, he’s better than the crud they had in the past.
Vaclav Nedorost – 17GP 4-3-7 +6, 10PIM
Rather than go back to his home club of Ceske Budejovice (Which is now in the 1st division), Nedorost decided to play with Liberec and has performed decently. Nedorost suffered an injury which kept him from playing for Czechia in the recent Karjala Cup.
Jiri Fischer & Jaroslav Modry – Unfortunately for Liberec, neither one of these defensemen has played a game for them yet. Jiri Fischer is still recovering from an arm injury while Modry decided to stay with the family and take care of business with them, first.
Liberec just had a recent press conference where Modry tried on the Liberec uniform and said he’ll be ready to go shortly.
Ladislav Smid, the first round pick of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 2004 draft is the pride of the Liberec system. He’s currently got 1 assist this year and plays on a unit with their #1 defenseman, Valdemar Jirus. Jirus takes care of the offence while the young Smid has been expected to play a more defensive game. Smid may not be putting up much in the way of offence, but he’s been given a lot of playing time in crucial defensive situations.
Saturday, November 13, 2004
Weekend Update: Bartek, Brendl & Bartecko
Fortunately, they woke up and beat Canada's E-squad (and 'non-scab' Corey Hirsch), 5-3, and then whipped the Germans today by a 6-2 score.
The real story of this tournament has been Predators' 'prospect' Martin Bartek. In the 3 games played, Bartek has 5 goals (Including 4 against Canada) and 4 assists while playing on a line with Lubos Bartecko and Leafs 2004 draftee Roman Kukumberg.
Drafted in the 8th round by Nashville in 1998, Bartek starred in the ECHL before struggling in the AHL and giving up on North America altogether.
Last season, Bartek surprised the nation and ripped apart the Slovak Extraliga and won the scoring title with 38 goals and 36 assists in 49 games. Finnish team Rauma took notice and signed Bartek away from Zvolen.
Just like his tenure in North America, Bartek has struggled and it's just a matter of time before he's kicked to the curb.
From Rauma fan 'psycho dad':
I have a strong feeling he could have been a good goal scorer. He has a world class shot, but a horrible childish attitude if that article is telling the truth. Loads of way better players are enjoying their time here in Finland, and playing much better hockey than Bartek.
Bartek's problem is his lack of defensive game. He also doesnt use his shot a whole lot. I guess he just cant cope with the defense here, so he has no scoring opportunities. He seemed to whine that his point production dropped after Pirnes got injured. Good players like Pasi Saarela kept on scoring and creating chances even without Pirnes. Bartek totally disappeared.
I guess he is a primadonna then...good riddance.
It really is frustrating to see talented people waste their talent simply due to laziness. If Bartek had played well in Finland, he may have earned himself another shot in North America. According to my pal Dano, Bartek will likely head to evil Slovan Bratislava...where good talent goes to the country club.
A hot story from my pal Joeri:
Pavel 'Krispy Kreme' Brendl has been kicked off of yet ANOTHER team! Trinec kicked him out after 2 games, Krefeld of the German League didn't want him after the 'buffet' incident, and after a short stint with Olomouc (Czech 1st division), he signed with Malmo in Sweden.
Well, apparently Malmo has told Brendl to take a long walk off of a short plank after just 3 days of practice. Team officials were upset that Brendl came to their team in such poor shape and overweight. His unprofessionalism were the final straw and the team didn't even bother keeping him around to let him 'prove' himself.
I hope Brendl isn't the type to 'eat' away his depression. He may very well end up 300 pounds and playing in Belgium within a year.
Atlanta Thrashees defenseman Ivan Majesky has decided to join evil Sparta Praha. Instead of joining his brother Boris with HKm Zvolen, $parta lured him to Prague with the big bucks. There is a special place in Hell for this team.
Today's biggest beating comes courtesy of Norway, which smacked Serbia 21-0 in a Pre Olympic Qualifying tournament being held in Norway.
Here's a question: How the hell did Espen Knutsen end up without getting a single goal or assist in this game??? I'm sure his wife won't let him forget about this.
Poor Nebojsa Banovic finished with a -10!!
Calgary Flames forward Shean Donovan is the latest Canadian heading overseas...he'll be heading to Geneva in the Swiss League until at least Christmas. As is standard, he has an 'exit' clause in case of an NHL/NHLPA resolution (and then Hell was sunny again). To make room for Donovan, Geneva is expected to release former St. Louis Blues defenseman Phillipe Bozon. Wow, I haven't heard that name in a long time.
Thanks to Joeri for the tip.
Thursday, November 11, 2004
Hamming for Hamé: HC Zlín
The City: You aren't likely to find any NHLers born in 'Zlin', and that is due to the fact that the city was once called Gottwaldov. From 1949 to 1993, the city was called Gottwaldov in honor of Klement Gottwald, Czechoslovakia's first Communist president. When the Iron Curtain fell, they were sure to ditch that name pretty quickly and thus we now have 'Zlin'.
and from www.question.com:
One of the world's largest shoe-manufacturing cities, it is the center of the Czech shoe industry, which was founded in 1913 by Thomas Bata. Under the Bata family, the city grew into an almost self-sufficient factory community. Branches of the Bata shoe company opened throughout the world. Nationalized after World War II and then privatized, the former Bata facilities are no longer associated with the Bata company. Tires and other rubber goods, machinery, and animated films are also produced in Zlín.
Gottwaldov/Zlin is the hometown of such luminaries as Roman Hamrlik, Petr Cajanek, and Ivana Trump (Ya, darlink!)
The Team: Gottwaldov/Zlin has a long history in the Czechoslovakian and Czech Leagues, but had never won a championship until last season (It had a few 2nd place finishes, though). In the recent past, the team was known as the Rams (Berani), and sponsored by Barum, a local tire company.
Before the 03/04 season, after finishing 13th the past season, Zlin found itself a new sponsor, Hamé, a company produces jams, candys, and other 'lunch meats'. The sponsor change also include a name change (to HC Hamé), and a whole new logo and teamname. From the logo above, you can see the team is now the Bears (Medvedi).
Zlin has produced a pretty good string of teams over the recent past, but was coming off of one of its worst seasons ever, thanks in large part to the lack of a quality goaltending. This achilles heel was finally fixed thanks to the importing of Slovak goalie Igor Murin, as well as first-division star Martin Altrichter.
Amazingly, Altrichter (who has the biggest nose I've ever seen on a hockey player) took over for an injured Murin during the playoffs and ended up winning Playoffs MVP. Another large piece of the puzzle was the return of scoring champ Petr Leska. Leska has bolted to Sparta Praha (boo!) for one year, but decided that the dark side was not to his liking, and he returned to Zlin. Add in Slovak rookie Peter Barinka and you get the first ever championship for Zlin.
Today: Things are looking just rosy for the Hams (as I call them), as they sit in 2nd place just behind evil Sparta Praha, and have a stronger roster thanks to the additions of NHLers Roman Hamrlik, Petr Cajanek, and Martin Erat.
In January, Zlin was participate in the "Super 6" tournament against the other European League champions. If the NHL lockout kicks the whole season to the curb, the Hamburgers from Zlin should be set for a strong title defense.
Petr Cajanek - 18GP 6-4-10 +5, 37PIM
Cajanek had been a star for Zlin for years when I campaigned for the Blues to sign him to a contract, rather than leave him in Europe for an eternity. It's strange that he's been the one dissappointment of sorts for Hame this season as he's been relegated to the unfamiliar role of 2nd line. Cajanek centers the 2nd line with Peter Barinka and ex-Buffalo Sabre Jaroslav Kristek. The former 'heart-and-soul' of Zlin has improved in recent games and I hope he'll make his breakthrough once the NHL returns to action.
Roman Hamrlik - 18GP 1-6-7 +11, 20PIM
It's been many years since Hamrlik has donned the hometown jersey, but it's been quite a sight for the hometown fans to see him playing on the same team as his brother, Martin. Strangely enough, Roman has been paired with Radim Tesarik, and not his brother.
Martin Erat - 19GP 8-11-19 +8, 49PIM
The junior member of Nashville's famed 'Vowel Line' has been on fire in short tenure with Zlin. Expected to join his brother, Roman, with the Znojmo Eagles, Martin used his psychic powers to predict that Zlin was a much better situation than the mess that Znojmo has turned into.
Well, thanks to Rogalo from hfboards.com for translating an interview with Erat:
I had an offer from Znojmo as well but I told myself that the only team I really want to play for in the Extraliga, is Zlin. When I was growing up here, people at the club, especially Mr. Venera (ex-coach, now GM of Zlin), really helped me. This is my way of saying thank you.
I hope that when so many NHLers came back, the quality will be better. A lot of people are saying that the Extraliga is getting worse and worse every year. That the quality is declining. But it is hard to say and have an opinion on this matter when i have not been here for 5 years and even before that, played only 5 Extraliga games. I dreamed of the NHL since I was little, I got there and I am trying to play there as well as I can.
Erat has been on Zlin's top line with scoring champ Petr Leska and goal-scoring machine Jaroslav Balastik. I wonder how this line would do in an NHL enviroment compared to Orszagh-Arkipov-Erat.
Other ZLIN players of note:
Jaroslav Balastik - Drafted in the 6th round by Columbus in 2002, Balastik has been the most productive goal-scorer in the Extraliga over the past year-and-a-half...and 4 years if you discounted his tenure in the Finnish League. The 25 year-old forward is a sizeable Power Forward type (6'3") with a great touch around the net. If Columbus doesn't bring him to the AHL soon, it will be too late for them.
Libor Pivko - Currently playing with Nashville's AHL team, Pivko was once the center between Leska and Balastik. I am amazed that the beanpole Pivko (which means 'little beer') has turned into a decent AHLer and may make the NHL as a 3rd line 'role player'.
Martin Hamrlik - Ahh yes, the 'other' brother. Martin has been a star and anchor for the Zlin team for the past 7 years. He was drafted in the 2nd round by Hartford in the 1991 draft, but never made the show after 4 seasons in the AHL and IHL. Martin is a right-shooting defenseman who has been at the top or near the top of the defensive scoring leaders in the Czech Extraliga during his tenure. What kept Martin back from the NHL? Maybe the fact that he was 5'10" (albeit very stocky and strong)? I'm not sure, but NHL teams haven't shown an interest during the recent expansion era.
Wednesday, November 10, 2004
To Russia for Money
1. A bombshell this morning as it was announced that Martin "The Brat" Havlat was leaving the Znojmo Eagles to join Dynamo Moscow in Russia.
"From Martin's perspective, having the chance to go to Russia and play in a very competitive league, he's really looking forward to being part of that," Havlat's agent Allan Walsh said
Of course, the $1.2 million (tax-free) he's scheduled to be paid with Dynamo had absolutely nothing to do with his decision.
2. Mora on Marian - There are conflicting reports from DenikSport and from other sites about the future/here&now of Marian Hossa. While Denik Sport seems to confirm that Hossa will join his brother, Marcel, with MORA IK until January 25th, neither the Slovak hockey site nor the officials from Dukla Trencin have confirmed the move has actually taken place yet.
Unlike Havlat, Marian wouldn't be moving for the money. MORA IK has admitted that they do not have a lot of money to throw around at the moment, and are getting the big-brother discount if Marian decides to play for them.
(Thanks for Dano and Joolzie for the info)
3. I haven't been providing as much Vancouver Giants news as I'd like, so here is a decent article about the Giants and their two imports: Andrej Meszaros and Marek Schwarz. It's nothing groundbreaking, but it's a decent read.
Tuesday, November 09, 2004
1. The major news item was this Star Tribune’s article about an inside look at the NHLPA’s SCORE (Salaries Create Overpaid Remuneration Environment) system...a smart little piece of work that keeps track of player offers, contract, clauses...basically everything that the NHLPA needs to compare salaries and collude the salary structure even further into the stratosphere. If you haven’t been in a cave, you probably have already read this by now...but if not...
The Star Tribune used the SCORE system (Thanks to a friendly agent) to look up the information for defenseman Nick Schultz. The NHLPA, ever secretive, declared this to be ‘hacking’ into their system.
Now, this agent could be risking a lot just by letting this paper into the secret little world of the NHLPA:
That said, the NHLPA is watching its agents. Any time an agent does statistical comparisons or looks up contracts, a clock ticks on access to that player's data. When the allotted 120 minutes run out, the agent must call the NHLPA and ask for additional time.
What is to stop the NHLPA from tracking the anonymous agent who logged into their system to look up NICK SCHULTZ? Methinks one unlucky agent is about to be de-certified.
One basic question: Why is it that the NHLPA is allowed this collusion, but the NHL would not be? The players compete against themselves on the ice and for better and better contracts. The NHL is a single entity, so it would make sense that they should be able to share the exact same information without penalty.
2. The Mike Danton saga is finally over, and he’s been sentenced to prison for 7.5 years. This essentially ends his hockey career and I hope he gets the help he needs in prison...it sounds like he needs to be de-programmed from the cult of David Frost.
PS: Don't drop the soap... (Sorry, I had to)
3. The Anti-Visor campaign (Also known as the Don Cherry Caveman Hockey Association) has been guffawing over the fact that Dany Heatley had his eye carved like ivory despite the fact that he wears a half-visor.
I don’t want to go back over my rant about helmet straps (see McSorely-Brashear), but what’s the use of a visor if it only covers your forehead? So many players wear their chinstraps loosely, causing the visor to often NOT be protecting the eyes that they are supposed to be protecting. This is basically like installing a security camera without turning it on.
Sunday, November 07, 2004
The Czechs will begin the Karjala Cup (in Finland) against the Finns, Russians, and Swedes.
The Karjala Cup is Part I of a four-part tour in which little tournaments are held in each of the 4 countries. The team with the best overall record after the 4 tournaments wins bragging rights and a free dinner at Red Lobster.
The Slovaks, on the other hand, get left out of the Big Boys club and will have to play in the German Cup with Germany, Switzerland, and Canada's E-Squad.
The Slovak Squad is quite NHL-free, which is kind of depressing given the fact that the Slovaks had so much trouble last year with their European-based players.
Goalies: Rastislav Staňa (Södertälje/Švéd.)
"Krazy" Karol Križan (Hkm Zvolen)
Imrich Petrík (HC Košice)
Defense: Martin Štrbák (HC Košice), Tomáš Starosta (DuklaTrenčín),
Dominik Graňák, Boris Žabka (obaja Slavia Praha/ČR),
Jaroslav Obšut (Lulea/Švéd.), Branislav Mezei (Třinec/ČR),
Peter Smrek (Wolfsburg/Nem.), Tomáš Harant (Karlovy Vary/ČR)
Forwards: Ivan Čiernik (Wolfsburg/Nem.), Martin Bartek (Lukko Rauma/Fín.), Rastislav Pavlikovský, Marcel Hossa (obaja Mora/Švéd.), Richard Kapuš, Martin Kuľha, Martin Hujsa (všetci Slovan Bratislava), Miroslav Zálešák (HK Skalica), Peter Fabuš (Dukla Trenčín), Roman Kukumberg (Nižnekamsk/Rus.), Ľuboš Bartečko (Dinamo Moskva/Rus.), Martin Cibák (Plzeň/ČR), Ľubomír Vaic (Liberec/ČR), Juraj Faith (ŠKP Poprad)
Other news heading into the break:
1. Dany Heatley is the latest casualty in Europe, and it's another serious injury:
Heatley, playing for SC Bern, was hit in the eye by a shot from teammate Daniel Briere during a game Saturday night with Geneva-Servette.
Heatley was taken immediately to hospital, where he was diagnosed with a severe swelling and inner bleeding. He had no sight from the injured eye when admitted. Doctors drained the eye to relieve pressure in it.
It's just one thing after another with Heatley.
2. "Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss!" - Now that Karel Rachunek is off to Russia, the Znojmo Eagles finally got around to hiring to hiring a competant head coach: Miloslav Horava. Why is this strange? Well, he was the coach of Znojmo just 2 years ago... I guess if they want another retread, they might as well go with a familiar one.
3. Jaromir Jagr has been whining for some time about his craving for Vodka and Russian Hockey. He finally put his mouth where his (large piles of) money is and he's now off to play with Avangard Omsk. It's a really big blow for Kladno, as Jagr is leading the Czech Extraliga with 28 points (11+17) in just 17 games played.
GOLDEN HELMET TIME!
I know you are just craving some hockey action, so here are the Zlata Helma clips from this week's "Buly" (Hockey Night in Czechia) TV show.
1. Zbynek Irgl - Nashville's very much forgotten prospect (6th round pick in 2000), Irgl dances around Vsetin's defense for a slick goal. Irgl was also named to the Czech Team for the Karjala Cup. Nobody knows about this guy outside of Czechia, but he is a good player and I hope he'll get a shot with the Preds in the future.
2. Milan Hnilicka absolutely robs a very very very frustrated Pavel Janku of Trinec. Of course, Hnilicka throws his stick on the play and there is no penalty shot called! I can see why the Czech NHLers are so frustrated with the Extraliga refs.
3. Petr Leska, the Extraliga scoring champ a few years back, sets up Jaroslav Balastik (6th round, 2002 by Columbus) with an absolute LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG bomb of a pass against Trinec. Didn't I tell you that Trinec had a weak defense? :) :(
Balastik currently leads the Extraliga with 14 goals...none easier than that one.
4. Karel Rachunek leaves the Znojmo fans with a good memory before he bolts to Russia. Here he blasts one past a befuddled Kamil Jarina of Litvinov.
5. Petr Prucha - Those who like this guy like him a LOT (Like Hockey Rodent). The Rangers drafted him the 8th round of the 2002 draft...if Prucha wasn't such a shrimp, he definitely would have been a first rounder with his skills and speed. You may remember him as Jagr's linemate at the 2004 World Championships...and he'll be on the Karjala Cup team as well. In this clip, he sets up defenseman Mudroch in a combination play.
6. Former Vancouver Giant Robin Kovar (and Oiler's illegal draft pick) is the middle-man in this combination play as he sets up Tomas Vak. It's amazing how well Kovar has done in the Extraliga given how poorly he did in the WHL.
Friday, November 05, 2004
Extraleague Update Machine: 11-05-04 The House of Pain
Back Spasms - You can't fight thru 'em
Anyways, the Hockey Rodent has a good recap of the day's Czech action. You can find the usual stat reports below.
Over in Slovakia, Zvolen has put Orszagh-Handzus-Zednik all on the same line and they won big over pathetic Dubnica by an 8-1 score. The HOZer line, amazingly, had only 1 of the 8 Zvolen goals.
For something completely random, here is a picture of Viktor Kozlov playing in the Russian Superleague.
To Do List (for the blog...just to refresh my own memory):
1. HC Hame Zlin - Last Year's Czech Champs deserve a Team Focus
2. Comments on the Czech League to Date (League run-through)
3. Update Sidebar Links
4. More Vancouver Giants news and reports
Now, for the stats...
Thursday, November 04, 2004
Christer Olsson: End of a Footnote
Why would I bother mentioning this? Only because of...
November 27, 1996
St. Louis Blues trade D Christer Olsson to the Ottawa Sentaros in exchange for F Pavol Demitra.
Poor guy! It must not be too easy being a footnote in one of the more lopsided NHL trades in the past decade...or being named 'Christer'
After his trade to the Senators, Olsson only played 25 games for them before a hit along the end boards seperated his shoulder (To which Don Cherry used as an example on the evils of seamless glass).
He then went back to Sweden to hide away from the shame of being dealt for GOD/PAVOL DEMITRA!!
I actually liked Christer Olsson when he was a member of the Blues, and he was named 'best defenseman' at the 1995 World Championships. He never made a big dent in the NHL (16 points in 56 games), but he was a good defenseman and had a good career back home.
I'm just glad the Senators liked him enough to deal away Demitra...and the rest is/was history.
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Sergei Zholtok: Dead at 31
Veteran NHL player Sergei Zholtok died in Latvia on Wednesday. He was 31.
He was playing hockey in his home city of Riga, the Latvian capital, when he became ill near the end of a game. European news reports say he suffered from cardiac arrhythmia.
Sergejs Zoltoks, as he is known among Slavs, had some heart problems in the past.
I'm not just talking about the dizziness last year, but earlier in his career, when he floated around like a cloud.
I was always impressed that he worked hard to improve his game and became a lot grittier later in life...much like Robert Lang.
At least he died doing what he loved, although far earlier than he should have.
Zholtok in happier times.
Extraleague Update Machine: 4 More Years of Darkness
1. Karel Rachunek IS confirmed to be transferring to Russia, but he still played last night for Znojmo. Marian Hossa played last night for Trencin, and his move to Mora IK is definitely not confirmed.
2. Michal Handzus made his looooooooooooooooooooong-awaited debut for Zvolen. He didn't burn the house down, though. Richard Zednik piled up a whopping mound of penalty minutes, but he was just whining about a slashing penalty he took (30 minutes of misconduct penalties, woo!).
3. I guess I was on to something about the NHLers getting a little antsy. There were another couple of fights in this derby between Litvinov and Znojmo.
Light Middleweights Martin Rucinsky and Patrik Elias went at it in the 2nd period in a rather girly slapfest. The real action started after the 3rd period was completed, and Radim Bicanek got involved in a 4-player brawl after the final whistle had blown.
Damn, we're missing some good stuff!
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
1. NO MORA HOSSA IN SLOVAKIA?
This transfer hasn't been confirmed in stone, but apparently Marian Hossa wants to leave Trencin and join his brother, Marcel, with the Swedish team Mora IK.
I'll be sure to keep my eye on this story.
(Thanks to Joolsie for the link)
2. RACOONS INVADE RUSSIA
Apparently tired of losing, listening to Martin Havlat brag about something or another, and having his brother, Ivan, constantly ask him for money, Karel Rachunek has decided to leave the Znojmo Eagles and sign with Yaroslavl of the Russian Vodka League. Poor Znojmo...now their defense consists of Radim Bicanek and 5 headless chickens.
We might be seeing more and more of these types of transfers as it appears more and more likely that we may not have an NHL season at all. Jaromir Jagr has already publicly declared his future could lie in the Russian league.
Other players may switch teams and look for more 'secure' deals, rather than the homedown discounts that they are currently playing for. (Jagr and his one Czech Crown contract, for example).
3. GONCHAR GONCHED!
PJ from Sharkspage.com and Eric from OffWing Opinion both posted this link to a video clip of Gonchar getting rocked by Ovechkin (See Saturday's blog entry). A hit always looks 3.8 times more devastating when the helmet comes flying off.
I also agree with Eric that it's sad that a player like Gonchar has had his career endangered. In today's Defense-first NHL, the offensive, rushing defenseman is almost going the way of the dinosaur. David Tanabe was supposed to be the 'next one', but he hasn't panned out, yet. If Dick Tarnstrom and Marek Zidlicky can succeed in today's NHL, then it gives me hope that there will always be room for an offensive-minded DMan. Of course, these guys have to produce a lot of points to be given the opportunities that they have been.
4. It's not often that you get anything good from FoxSports, but this little article about the Slovak Extraliga was suprising good for a non-Slav North America. If you want a very basic rundown of the Slovak League, check it out.
5. If you ever in Vsetin (why the hell would you be in Vsetin? I don't know) and get lost on the way to the hockey rink, just look for a big sign like this and Roman Cechmanek will point the way.
Imagine driving down the road at 3AM in the morning and seeing this scary picture. It's enough to give you nightmares.
(Thanks to Marek M. for the picture)
Monday, November 01, 2004
All Hollow's Eve: When Darkness Falls over Czechia
This week's Zlata Helma (Golden Helmet) compilation is a good one, and with a spooky Canucks connection:
(Right-Click and 'Save As' for best results...)
1. Ex-Canuck Jan Hlavac stickhandles up ice like a slalom skier and feeds Ex-Canuck Petr 'Traitor' Nedved for the goal.
2. Tomas Vokoun stacks the pass as he rumbles across the crease to rob the evil Sparta Praha Frankensteins on a goal.
3. Ex-Canuck Martin Rucinsky feeds a sweet cross-ice feed to the mercenary, Robert Reichel.
4. Martin Straka wires a slapper after everyone and their mother thought there would be a penalty call on the play. "Kids, don't stop playing until you hear the whistle!"
5. Ex-Canuck Lubomir Vaic (And you cannot call yourself a Canucks fan if you don't remember this guy!) sets up a nice combination play. Vaic's career NHL stats: 9games, 1 goal, 1 assist. Good times...good times...
6. Canucks forgotten prospect Lukas Mensator shows off one of his 40+ saves from that shutout performance against Litvinov. Here, Mensator robs Jiri "Goomba" Gombar.
Maybe the players are just frustrated by the lockout, but we are seeing an awful lot of fights in the Czech Extraliga these days. Just days after the brawl between Zlin and Vsetin, Jiri Slegr returns from a back injury and decides to drop the gloves. I don't think the fans are too dissappointed. :)
Also, Branko Radivojevic returned from injury and helped Vsetin win another game. After an awful slump, Vsetin has been boosted by the returns of Cechmanek and Radivojevic and have climbed out of the basement.
Now, for the stats...