Translations by Tomas Jandik
Hlinka's reaction to his termination - MF Dnes - 18-Oct-01
I Wonít Get Mad at the Whole World, Says Coach Hlinka
How did Patrick tell you that he doesnít count on you as a coach anymore?
He came to me in the morning before the practice and said: ĎIím sorry, but we have to make a change.í
Did you know that something sinister was about to come?
I donít want to put it that way. These are not pleasant moments, but they are a part of sport. When the team isnít successful, itís clear that people arenít particularly satisfied.
Do you feel sad, or angry?
Itís mixed one with the other. I do have to cope with it. I wonít be mad at the whole world, and all hockey people. Such a reaction wouldnít be appropriate.
Donít you feel that Pittsburgh betrayed you?
My relationship with the team was very good. Even after what happened, Patrick offered me to have me stay with the club, so that I can utilize my knowledge. Itís hard for me to talk about it, I donít like to talk about myself much. I replied that Iíll take some time to think about it and that we will talk later.
How did the day when you finished your coaching in Pittsburgh look like?
I went home and sat down with my wife. We talked about it. Itís not just the question of my job, but of the further plans as well. Moving out of America isnít a one-day deal.
Did you talk to the players?
I was glad that the guys stopped by in the afternoon. Lang, Straka, and Milan Kraft all came. Itís nice when the guys come and say: ĎThatís life, coach.í We had some coffee, ate some soup my wife made, and talked. I got a phone call from Petr Svoboda, both the player and the agent. Martin Rucinsky called as well.
The media in America now write that your release was being prepared for quite some time.
These are speculations. Sure, you can get fired. One has to think about even while signing the contract.
American media criticized you a lot; do you think this stuff contributed to your termination?
When there is no success, the pressure is big. The media push for victories, especially if the coach isnít local. But [the Czech soccer National Team coach] Pepik Chovanec is under a big pressure, too. Despite the fact that he is the Ďhome boyí and has excellent results.
Still, donít you think that they donít like Europeans in Pittsburgh anymore? You are the fifth Czech that the team has parted with in last several months.
I wouldnít like to see it that way. When you look at it from the other side, those people in Pittsburgh were the ones that hired me. If it werenít for Patrick and the others, I wouldnít have been here. Why would they bring me in here, if they just wanted to kick me down. I donít want to weep, crying wonít fix anything.
But in Pittsburgh, you apparently did not have the same position that you would enjoy in Europe.
If [the name] Hlinka enjoyed the same stature here as it does at home, probably they would think a little more of me and give me more of a chance. Itís a little different here. You have to keep your position more and more solid.
The owner of the team, Mario Lemieux, allegedly recommended taking some language courses to you, and then he expressed his disappointment that you spent your summer in Europe instead.
I donít know about that. I know that to coach means to speak. It is crucial. I will never speak as good English as [I would do] if I were born here. I had to learn the language, and I somehow did learn it.
Was your English detrimental to your communication with the media?
I think that I was able to communicate with them fairly well. Especially with those attending every practice. We had a good relationship. But you canít expect the media to praise you if you lose three times.
Your friend and agent Petr Svoboda said ĎIf I were Ivan Hlinka, I would go to the Olympics and give the Americans a thorough thrashing.í Do you see it that way?
No. I donít want to lose, I want to win. But I donít want to keep the anger inside me.
Donít you think that your case spurs the Canada-Czech Republic Olympics matchup even further?
The Olympics will be very prestigious. But I wouldnít see it just as the clash between Canada and the Czech Republic. There will be six equally matched teams over there. If you want to win the Olympics, you have to win three games in a row. You canít defeat just one team.
You will be the GM of the Czech Republic Olympics team. Have you already talked to your team colleagues about whatís next?
I talked to both coaches Augusta and Cernik. We just talked generally. They plan to come here [to the US]. We will have more time. If [the Head Coach] Pepik Augusta wants, we can talk about some other things as well.
What do you mean by that?
There are a lot of things [to talk about].
Wonít your authority level on the Olympics team change now?
I think nothing has changed so far.
Do you feel relieved that after one year and a half the weight of being the NHL coach fell off your shoulders?
Itís gone for the moment. But if you do this job, you get used to the strain. The stress, the joy, mixing one with the other, thatís like a drug. At some point it may be beneficial if you get rid of it. But you are addicted, and you will miss it in a moment.
Do you need it in your life?
Not imminently. But all that risk, the crazy stuff around is what one misses.
So will you go back to coaching after you leave Pittsburgh?
Right now I donít know, really. Itís still too fresh. Naturally, Iíll have to sit down and think. I wonít turn my back on hockey, I wonít get pushed out by it that easily. I am not angry at the game.
What will you do in the next days?
Iíll go to Florida for a week, to get my thoughts straight. I definitely wonít read any newspapers. Iíll take my books with me. I mean Ė Iíll take my wife, naturally, in the first place. Then the books, then the golf clubs. My wife is laughing, she says she will beat me up [once the interview is over].
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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