Translations by Tomas Jandik
Cechmanek's post-season interviews ("Sport" daily) - 12-May-03
The most interesting excerpts from two recent interviews that Roman Cechmanek did with the Czech daily “Sport”. The newspaper focuses on sports (duh :) ), and it is pretty reputable (sort of like ‘Czech ESPN’, but in print)
The first interview was done at the Prague airport immediately after Cechmanek returned from the US. It was printed on 5/10/2003.
Except for the last two games, the 32-year old goaltender judges the past season positively. He got accustomed to the team of fighters [goons?] in Philadelphia during the past 3 years. He has no problems with Coach Hitchcock. He even got among the “chosen ones” that solve the problems with the management when they happen.
“When the coach did not like something, and wanted a change, then he first called upon a small group of six players – and I am a part of [that group]. Apparently, he does not consider it a burden. “It’s rather pleasant. You realize that you aren’t useless for the team, and you tend to enjoy it,” relishes Cechmanek who isn’t exactly the favorite of the hockey writers. The Czech goalie was particularly upset by the year old “case” of alleged disputes in the locker room. “I have already said it multiple times that the problem did not exist at all. It was a normal thing that happens on a regular basis in hockey, and somebody made a big deal out of something that did not happen,” he states.
During the last spoiled game of the series against Ottawa, the fans did not particularly back their team. They whistled, booed, some of them even left the game half-way through. “You know, Philadelphia hasn’t succeeded in any of [major] sports lately, so the people are hungry for the victories.”
Nevertheless, the players are hungry for the wins as well. This year it did not work out, another chance will come a year from now. And Cechmanek would like to stay in Philadelphia. I got used to [living here] during the past three years. But you never know where you’ll end up.” He won’t think about the upcoming season right now, he wants to take a break first. “At this point I don’t know what I’m going to do. But I’ll think of something.”
The second is the complete interview done over the phone following the last game against Ottawa. It was printed on 5/9/2003:
Q: Philadelphia got eliminated from the Stanley Cup, and in addition you suffered a debacle 1:5 during the last game. You sure couldn’t have imagined such an end…
You’re right. They scored two fast goals at the beginning, and that decided the game. Ottawa forced their style upon us, and they did not let us play.
Q: What was the atmosphere in the locker room after the game like? Were rough words flying around?
There was total disappointment in the locker room. We were angry, but mainly at us. We made a lot of mistakes and paid for it dearly.
Q: [Many] spectators were angrily leaving the arena midway through the game. They were booing you after the periods, during the last period the half-empty stands were basically only whistling. That was no pleasant good bye…
I don’t understand that they hate me and the whole team. After all, only the last two games were sub-par on our part. We were exhausted.
Q: But it looked quite promising at the beginning. You left Philadelphia when the score was 2:2, both your victories were shut-outs. Can you explain the let-down?
The series was very balanced, but we simply couldn’t match them during the last two games. It’s no shame for us to be eliminated by the team like Ottawa. We played some good matches, we left everything on the ice. The previous series with Toronto was quite long, though, and we were very tired [after it].
Q: Yours, as well as the team’s performance resembled a roller coaster. Didn’t you provide extra ammunition to all those doubters who claim that you aren’t a play-off caliber goalie?
When we were winning, and I was shutting the opponents out, I was the hero. When you mess something up, immediately everything turns around and the fans whistle [boo?]. I know that some of the goals looked terribly, and some of them were the result of my mistakes. But neither our defense was error-free, as well as the others. They scored 5 goals on us in either of the last 2 games, because we failed as a team.
Q: Washington Post contemplated before the last game that you allegedly don’t have many friends on the team. Is it even at all possible to focus on hockey, given all those pressures?
The pressure was enormous, especially for a goalie in Philadelphia. People here still remember Brian Boucher and so the fans and the management expect the same – maybe even more – from me. There is only one way how you can survive all of this – don’t read the newspapers, don’t listen to the radio, don’t watch TV, don’t communicate with anybody around. But then they immediately tell you that you are not a team player, and you are the bad one, again. A player has to cope with it in his own way.
Q: The season for one of the playoffs favorites is over. Have you thought about your upcoming program?
I have to take a break, the series totally exhausted me. My muscles, my joints all hurt, so I’ll go to some spa first. Then I’ll be spending most of the time at home with my family.
Q: Some speculated that if your Stanley Cup run isn’t successful, the management will trade you away from Philadelphia. Has any of your bosses called you yet?
Except for the last two games, I am extremely satisfied with my season. My regular season worked out really well, and I even positively judge the play-offs. I have a contract for two more years, so let’s see what they’ll do with me.
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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