Tuesday, May 09, 2006


World Championships: The Sucky Slovaks!

How many North Americans are actually paying attention to the World Championships this year?

I’m not slagging the tournament, but I am honestly having a lot of trouble drumming up a lot of interest for this year’s tourney. Like many of the players, I’m already ‘burnt out’ from the NHL, the Olympics, plus the fact that I got to see the WJC and the Vancouver Giants are one game away from the Memorial Cup (after a 2-1 victory...Brule with another assist). My attention is quite diverted as it is, and the lack of star power and the fact the games are on basically when everyone is at work (which they usually are, anyway) means that this tournament is pretty much a non-factor to me until the finals are being played.

We’ve already seen how the Czech roster is quite weak and lacks many NHLers who are skipping due to fatigue and injury. The Slovaks? They are even worse!!

Count how many players you recognize. Extra bonus points if you can actually pronounce their names.

“Krazy” Karol Krizan
Rastislav Stana
Jan Lasak

Martin Strbak
Dusan Milo
Dominik Granak
Rene Vydareny
Milan Jurcina
Tomas Harant
Richard Stehlik

Miroslav Zalesak
Martin Cibak
Lubomir Vaic
Milan Bartovic
Rastislav Pavlikovsky
Miroslav Kovacik
Richard Kapus
Andrej Kollar
Ivan Ciernik
Tomas Surovy
Marian Hossa
Marcel Hossa

That’s right, there are just 6 NHLers are on the Slovak roster.

Pavol Demitra, Michal Handzus, Ladislav Nagy, Jozef Stumpel, Vladimir Orszagh, and Branislav Mezei are missing due to injuries while Peter Bondra, Lubo Visnovsky, Miroslav Satan, Ivan Majesky, and Marian Gaborik are skipped due to ‘family/personal’ reasons.

The Slovaks already lost to Belarus by a 2-1 score and will probably get torn apart from the stronger teams later in the tournament. Even some of the European selections are quite mind-boggling...

The one non-NHLer to watch is Dominik Granak. He’s a bit undersized for a defenseman (He’s 6’0” but skinnier than Nicole Ritchie) but has played for Slovakia at the senior level in World Championships twice before.

He’s not an offensive defenseman, but a very skilled finesse defensive defenseman, much like Miroslav Blatak of the Czech Republic (A Red Wings draftee). There seems to be some noise that Granak may finally get drafted this year. How could a team like Columbus not spend a low draft pick on Granak and bring him over to the AHL? It would be a lot better risk than picking some WHL grinder with no upside.

I think I recognize 5.

But only if Richard Stehlik is Richard Smehlik, late of les Sabres de Buffalo.

is he him?
Rasto Pavlikovsky and Martin Strbak certainly play at an NHL level. Something I noticed in the Turin Olympics was that apart from the real stars of the NHL, the typical NHL player is only marginally (if that) better than some of the European based players.
Stehlik (the 6'5" Slovak) is not Smehlik (The 6'2" or 3" Czech). Their is a vast age difference as well :)

I am a big fan of Strbak's and know the talent level of these players. The fact is that many of these players were marginal NHLers at best (Like Vaic, Zalesak) because they have big holes in their game. They are certainly a BIG step below the usual Slovak stars and will be hard pressed to succeed against real top talent like Sidney Crosby and such
Why isn't Juraj Kolnik playing?

What's the deal there?
Why isn't Juraj Kolnik playing?

What's the deal there?

Because Frantisek Hossa is an idiot... honestly, many other Slovak hockey fans are just as baffled. Kolnik is a bit of a clunky skater, but a hell of a lot better of a player than Milan Bartovic.
I recognize them all. Of course, me being of Slovak deccent, I would pronounce them easily.

And I know them through playing NHL 06 with the Slovak national team. ;)

A lot of them were fill-ins during the last Winter Olympic team or on previous NHL teams.
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