The Czech Republic comes into 2010 Olympics ranked 6th by the IIHF. They havent medalled in a World Championship in 3 years, finishing no higher than 5th in that time. Their 6th ranking is the lowest they have had in many years.
Dont count this jekyl & hyde team out though, its still loaded with stud star players. The team is ripe with all-stars & hall of fame calibur players.
Tomas Vokoun- FLORIDA PANTHERS (NHL) Whether Dominik Hasek can go or not, Vokoun is likely the starter.
Dominik Hasek- PARDUBICE HC (CZECH). When unarguably one of the best goalies in the history of the game says he wants in, you dont argue much with him being there. Even if there are multiple obstacles, most notably, an injury that has seen him only play 3 games this season. If he can go, he is there. If not, the back up will be Pavelec & the 3rd string will likely be young Michael Neuvirth.
Ondrej Pavelec- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) If Dom cant go, he is the uncontested back up.
Tomas Kaberle- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) Clearly far & away the top defenseman from the Czech team. Tomas will be expected to play heavy minutes against the top units of the opposition.
Marek Zidlicky- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) A power play specialist, Marek will log lots of PP time & likely #2 unit ES minutes.
Pavel Kubina- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) This 6'4 rock will take a lot of the checking duties & will likely play with Zidkicky who is a bit less defensive minded.
Roman Hamrlik- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Another PP specialist, with a strong shot. Roman will log lots of PP mins, but has a defensive skill set as well which will make him usable in all situations.
Ladislav Smid- EDMONTON OILERS (NHL) A solid +13 this season, and some offensive skills will make him a usable piece in all situations.
Jaroslav Spacek- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) 700 NHL games & a strong season this year at both ends of the ice are hard to ignore. Should be on this team.
Karel Rachunek- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL) The best of the European based dmen should make this team. What capacity is not entirely sure.
Martin Havlat- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) Having a slow year offensively adjusting to the Wild system of play. Still expected to be a top unit contributor though.
Patrik Elias- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Since returning from injury, he has shown flashes of his old self. Minus a small 3 game blip a couple weeks ago, Hes scored pts in 10 of 11 games.
Milan Hejduk- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) Will be expected to score goals, and likely will fill that role.
Vaclav Prospal- NEW YORK RANGERS (NHL) The Rangers have been lucky enough to catch Prospal on an even numbered season. The epitome of Jekyl & Hyde is doing it again this season, having a stellar year after a letdown one last season. The Czechs must be thrilled the Olympics are this year for this reason.
Jaromir Jagr- OMSK AVANGARD (KHL). Like Hasek, he is there simply by default. But he has done well in the KHL to validate his spot. The all time leading scorer amongst Czech players in the NHL will only really need to think about whether he is on the top line, or 2nd line.
Tomas Plekanec- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) The top scoring Czech in the NHL is a lock for the team, just what line will he play?
Tomas Fleischmann- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) Yes I know. Anyone could score with Semin, backstrom, Greene or Ovechkin helping them. But dont be fooled, he showed these skills even in the AHL where none of them were there to help him.
Martin Erat- NASHVILLE PREDATORS (NHL) A few weeks ago I doubted his spot on the team, but hes strengtehned his offensive game lately & now I see him as a probable top 2-3 line guy.
Milan Michalek- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) A slow Decemeber has dropped his stock some, but hes still expected to be on the 2nd line, or 3rd line.
Jiri Hudler- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL) Forget Jagr, Jiri Hudler is the top scoring Czech in Russia this year. He'll be used in offensive situations certainly, but in probably will be 2nd or 3rd line mostly.
Petr Sykora- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) if he is back from his concussion by then, he'll make the team.
Roman Cervenka- SLAVIA PRAHA HC (CZECH) The runaway scoring leader of the Czech league will probably be on this team. Will he be used in an offensive spot is still to be determined. Too many offensive weapons, not enough spots. But he'll still be here for no other reason but to reward his great play this year in the Czech Republic.
David Krejci- BOSTON BRUINS (NHL) After last seasons superb campaign, there were high hopes for David this year. he hasnt met them YET, but shows flashes of last years skills. He'll be here solely based on what he showed last year.
Radim Vrbata- PHOENIX COYOTES (NHL) Has offensive skills, but will be expected to play generally a checking role here.
maybes- Michael Neuvirth, Zbenek Michalek, Ales Kotalik, Jakub Voracek, Robert Lang, Michal Frolik.
The Montreal Canadiens for many years have been one of the most fan friendly & accomodating teams in all of sports. Truly class acts....and this is coming from someone that doesnt like them.
Those days however, ARE OVER!
With only 2 teams having come thru this season I am going to boldly proclaim the Montreal Canadiens will end the year as one fo the 5 worst signing teams to come here.
It wasnt ALL their fault, but it was certainly MOSTLY their fault.
Things that made this trip less sucessful that was out of their hands was the fact they changed hotels, fron a relatively decent hotel, to a horrible unwelcoming one. They also parked the bus in a spot that makes it MUCH tougher getting autographs at the rink after the post-gameday practice. Unlike the spacious railed area at their regular departure point that can comfortably make room for 20+ people, the tight narrow area of the driveway ramp provides room for 1 person to stand there, and another 2 to stand over that persons shoulder. Everyone behind there is generally SOL. Besides that, this was all on their shoulders.
Starting in goal
CAREY PRICE- 2 autographs. he actually started off the trip good. He signed a handful going into the gameday skate. But with a crowd of 40 or so waiting, he fell well short of seeing that everyone got 1. As the trip went on, he became even less willing. Only signing a few coming out of gameday practice & all of ONE the day after for the post-gameday practice that was sparsely attended by hounds.
JAROSLAV HALAK- 3 autographs. He managed to go undetected right up until they were getting on the bus to leave to the airport. Mostly because he had shaved his head & it threw those of us that had met him before off. Once he was picked off, he signed willingly...of course, there was only me 1 other person there with items for him at that time.
JAROSLAV SPACEK- 2 autographs. Oddly, he refused to sign for fans going into the game. The next day however, he was more cordial & signed for the few people asking.
ROMAN HAMRLIK- 0 autographs. Was actually one of the best signers. I dont recall him turning down any requests.
JOSH GORGES- 0 autographs. With comments like "make it quick, I gotta go" you can see that he was all class on the trip. He hurridly scrawled his signature on a couple peoples items before beelining for a cab after practice. Dont recall him being any better at any other point of the trip.
HAL GILL- 1 autograph. For a guy 6'7, I had a hell of a time getting him lol. He seemed to be hit & miss signing & the 1 time previous to them leaving town that he did sign I somehow missed him. I must have been busy getting someone else at that moment. When I finally did get him, it wasnt on the item I wanted, because I didnt have time to get to it & just accepted him on the generic team item I had shoved thru the limited space available near the door of the bus.
YANNICK WEBER- 1 autograph. No one knew who he was & if it werent for the generic team item I had & another hound with a puck, he would have probably not had to sign a single autograph here. I cant say if he would be a good signer or not, as no one ever actually asked him by name.
RYAN O'BYRNE & PAUL MARA- Do not have a report on.
ANDREI KOSTITSYN- 1 autograph. Was not too willing to acknowledge anyone, let alone sign until right before they left town. He signed a few at the bus door & that was, to the best of my knowledge, all he did while here. Certainly was not a willing signer.
BRIAN GIONTA- 4 autographs. Probably the best signer on the team. Signed anytime that you were able to get near him. Was willing to do multiples as well. Which was really rare on this team.
GEORGES LARAQUE- 0 autographs. Has been one of the leagues worst signers the past few seasons. He put that label into overdrive this trip. There is mixed reports of whether or not he signed a girls jersey when he came out on the game day skate. I dont think he actually did. Which if its true, means he completed signing a grand total of 0 autographs in 2 days here. Thats sad & pathetic, considering his autograph is nothing more than "GL". Usually players get tougher as they get better, not as they get worse. His signing habits have gone the way of his playing skills, downhill fast.
GLEN METROPOLIT- 0 autographs. Signed willingly when asked. Unsure if he would do multiples, but he seemed willing to sign, so maybe?
GUILLAUME LATENDRESSE- 3 autographs. Despite the positive number if autographs I got. The other GL tried to discourage people from getting him by giving out one of the most abysmal autographs I have seen from a relative newcomer in a long time.
MAX PACIORETTY- 5 autographs. Terrific signer for now. Did 4 items in 1 shot without any hesitation. I would say, from my experience, the best signer on the team for now.
MAXIM LAPIERRE- 0 autographs. There was considerable confusion when he signed on who was signing. Some people thought it was (Max)Pacioretty, some people thought it was (Matt) D'Agostini. By the time it was deciphered for those of us on the opposite side of where he started signing, we werent prepared for him & most of us missed him. But he seemed to be an ok signer for those on the other side that were able to see who it was from the beginning.
MIKE CAMMALLERI- 2 autographs. Coming into the gameday practice he was a good signer. Making sur eeveryone got one & in most cases 2. But that was IT. He never stopped again. So make sure you are there early for the Habs, because once he signs, he has the "I got everyone" mentality & wont do it again.
SCOTT GOMEZ- 0 autographs. Only because Georges Laraque is on the team is Scott not the teams worst signer. He signed TWO whole autographs, despite being asked everytime he was seen To top it off, his autographs resembled an upside down V with a small squiggle mark following.
TOMAS PLEKANEC- 1 autograph. He signed when I asked him to sign, but prior to that I dont recall even seeing him. So unsure how he was the rest of the trip.
TRAVIS MOEN- 1 autograph. Wasnt asked by a lot of people, but the ones who did ask, he signed for. I believe he was a strict 1 per about it though.
GREGORY STEWART- 1 autograph. dont recall how he was. I got him on my team photo the day they were elaving, but have no recollection of getting him. It really was a blur for a few mins there.
KYLE CHIPCHURA 1 autograph, dont recall how he was. I got him on my team photo the day they were elaving, but have no recollection of getting him. It really was a blur for a few mins there.
MATT D'AGOSTINI- no reports.
KIRK MULLER- 1 autograph. Was a willing signer anytime he was asked.
BOB GAINEY- 0 autographs. Never was seen till just before they were ready to leave town. TWO people asked him, he signed for ONE.
Total autographs from Montreal- 29
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