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Translations by Tomas Jandik
Hlinka's Column - MF Dnes - 3-Oct-01
http://hokej.idnes.cz/nhl.asp?r=nhl&c=A011003_024730_nhl_zej

We are waiting to see what Jagrís departure will do with the team

I had a dinner with Jarda Jagr and his personal trainer on Monday. We talked for quite some time, it was nice. Jarda went to see our practice before that, but now we will have to learn how to function without him. What will it do to the team? I donít know, we will see. For sure, it is a terrible weakening, there arenít many such excellent players like him. The media interest did not diminish a bit, though. After all, we still have Mario Lemieux on our teamÖ.

I am really looking forward to the start of the season. We have tried a total of 74 players during our camp, we used 6 to 7 lines. This is a very difficult period for any coach, you have to decide whom to send to the minors or to the juniors. Nothing pleasant about that. The biggest surprise for me was probably our youngster Chris Beech whom we got from Washington as a part of Jagr trade.

Lemieux will play with Beech, Kraft with Hrdina

I see some great future for him. At the beginning, Beech will play alongside Mario Lemieux; the right-winger will be another experienced player - Richer. I am really glad the team was able to keep our second line Ė Lang, Straka, Kovalev. They are our true stars.

Our third line will be Kraft and Hrdina, assisted by Morozov. They should really click in, they truly understand each other. And the fourth line will be primarily destructive, it wonít get that many opportunities. But we will definitely use it.

During the camp, I was pleased by the performance of the forward Michal Sivek as well. He played really well, nevertheless, he will still start the season in the minors. Our first three lines are quite stabilized, and it would not be beneficial for Michal to stay and play on the fourth line. He will definitely get more opportunities and playing time in the minors. And he still can have his chance to play on the first team later during the season.

Lemieux wants to skip back-to-back games

Some Czech newspapers reported that Lemieux doesnít want to play away games. That information was quite distorted. He really meant just those back-to-back games; he wonít play in one of such games. But if both of those games will be important, let alone crucial for our ultimate success, he will play in both games. We agreed on that.

We start our season on Wednesday against the Stanley Cup defenders, Colorado. It is a very attractive opponent, especially for the fans. Generally, we are up for a very challenging season. I am a little worried that the teams we will play most often became substantially stronger. Philadelphia will be definitely pumped up, New York Rangers and New York Islanders improved their rosters as well. And we donít even need to mention New Jersey, they are simply a superb team.

We are leaving the left-wing-lock system

Our biggest problem will apparently be our defense. Laukkanen and Jonsson are both injured, the only experienced player remaining is basically just Kasparaitis. We miss somebody who can defend tightly, who knows how to get his teammates open, and create situation when we out-number our opponent.

We are going to discontinue using the left-wing-lock system; we decided to start practicing a more flexible variant. At any time, the last forward will be the one responsible for the defense. We have to be really cautious with our defense; the perfect defense is the foundation of modern hockey. We will be more aggressive during our home games. Our offense has a chance to be quite strong, our goalie Hedberg has a good form as well.

How many Czech player we have? Thatís not important. The results will be the deciding factor.

For me, it is not important how many Czech players remained on the roster. Everybody will judge us based on our results. Among all the NHL teams, we still apparently have the most diverse roster with players from a lot of countries. And it is not important where everybody came from, but how useful each of them is on the ice.

There definitely will be some trades during the season, hopefully not motivated purely by financial reasons. The budget got stabilized, everything looks good. I am truly glad we were able to keep all of our key players. Of course, with the exception of JardaÖ We were able to agree on all our changes during the camp and the pre-season games with our GM, there wasnít a single dispute between us.

Tomas Jandik is the resident Czech on LetsGoPens.com and is a man who unifies all the goodies of the American dream - meaning, of course, being a Pitt graduate, a Razorback, and a Penguins fan.

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