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Translations by Tomas Jandik
Hnilicka: I want to play at the Championship (interview with 'Sport' daily) - 13-Dec-03
http://www.deniksport.cz/clanek349046.htm

Hnilička: I want to play at the Championship

You were taken by Los Angeles in September, but it was ČechmŠnek and the Frenchman Huet who stayed with the first team. What is the farm team life like?

It isnít for me anymore. I need to play; I donít want to get stuck here for long. Kings surprised me a little. When they hired me, they told me that I will have to go down with my salary a little, but the NHL bonuses will get me back to my asking price. And they sent me down.

A little Ė that should be in parentheses, shouldnít it?

Well, yes, I guess.

At thirty, the ambitious hockey players have tough time in minors. When you are 18, not making it into NHL is easier to swallow, but it should be harder at your age.

It isnít pleasant. Luckily, the coach in Manchester is a good guy. Basically, only I decide when to play. If I donít feel well, I let the substitutes in. I am not exactly in an easy situation. I appreciate that they are making it easier for me here. I always try to play my best to be able to return back up. I donít want to show off like I am totally bored. Thatís not my style.

Is your return to NHL possible?

You know how it goes here. Every day, anything can happen. If Los Angeles doesnít work out, I hope that something else will.

Havenít you contemplating return back to Europe?

NHL stays my priority. I have some contacts with European teams; certain opportunities have appeared, but I am not in any hurry to return home. First of all, I have a valid contract with NHL, and second Ė NHL is an ideal choice for me. I believe I can still make it there.

Thanks to a one-way contract you are earning the same money even in minors. Some may say: what is his problemÖ

But I am missing playing in a more quality league terribly. Iíd very much like to get nominated to play at the World Championship back home and it will be hard to make it there while playing in the minors.

Would you leave overseas and return to Europe because of the Championship?

Yes, I am thinking about it. [The World Championship] will b played in Prague, and I would really like to be there.

There will be a tough competition for the three goalie spots on the World Championship roster. Many players are interested. Have you been in contact with [the National Team] coach Lener?

He talked to my dad. I know it wonít be easy. My chances very much depend on where I will be playing. I myself am very interested. I have already accomplished quite a lot at the World Championship [level] Ė thatís out of question.

Tell me more about the ĎEuropeaní variant. Where are the teams interested in you from?

I shouldnít be talking about it much, because I am under a contract in LA. But, so be it. Switzerland and the Czech Republic come into a consideration.

Not Russia?

That possibility is out there, but I have excluded Russia in advance. I donít want to go there. A quiet family life is crucial for me, I need to have a good family foundation. It wouldnít work out in Russia.

The World Championship dates are getting closer, the [National Team roster] nomination will start to clear up in 4 months. You will have to make your decision soon. Have you set your personal deadline necessary for the change?

Yes, around Christmas or the New Year. By that time, I need to be playing in a good league.

You were impeded by injuries in Manchester; your stats show mere 8 games. Last time, it was an injured finger. Is everything OK now?

It is better, I can play. The ring-finger is broken, but I have been in a goal since Wednesday. Thatís when we played the first-place team of Hartford, and I had a good game. We won 4:2. I got a special cover for the finger, but I still have to be cautious. That finger is on my hand where I have my catching glove. I like that I no longer sit and that I am able to play again.

What was the problem before the accident with your finger?

My groin. And immediately I got it healed, somebody hit that finger during the practice. The tip of the finger got broken.

Minors teams have different quality. Your team doesnít look bad at the first sight, does it?

It isnít bad. We have to fight a lot, though. Especially now that LA called three guys up.

Are fans interested in your games?

A lot of them come. The attendance is about 9,000 in a 12,000 capacity arena.

Monarchs roster contains the formerly highly-coveted Ďstarletí Pavel Rosa and defenseman Tomas éiěka from the city of Zlin. Are they disappointed a lot that they did not make the first team?

Especially Pavel Rosa isnít particularly excited. He plays well in Manchester, scores on a regular basis, but he did not get any decent chance in LA. I have to praise Tomas as well Ė he is an excellent D.

What actually happened at the start of the season. Originally, you were supposed to fight Roman »echmŠnek for the No. 1 position, and, in case you lost, you were to become the No. 2. How come Huet leaped over you?

Čemanís position was solid. My task was to make it back to NHL. I imagined I would be pushing Roman. It did not happen. Why? I donít know. I havenít got a single game start during the camp. I couldnít comprehend the reasons why LA picked me.

Did you try to find them while talking to the coach or to GM of the Kings?

Before the trade with Atlanta, my agent got different information regarding my utilization on the first team. I was supposed to guard Čemanís back. My pre-season stats were better than those of Huet, though I have to add that I did not start any of the games.

Are you down because of that?

Today, my priorities are different. I enjoy the family life, I have a beautiful daughter. I donít need to Ďpush itĎ, and I donít even plan to do it. Unfortunately, I donít have presently any control over the situation. Iím spending my time in the minors, which pisses me off mainly because of the World Championship. I want to play there and I look for a way how to make it possible.

Letís go back to ČechmŠnek. He said recently during an interview with ĎSportí daily that he has always had the upper hand over you and mentioned the glorious ĎVsetin timesí [when Cechmanek won 5 Czech League titles with the team of Vsetin].

Thatís simply him. We have known each other for a long time, and our relationship is good. Even in LA we spent a lot of time together. I donít want to judge who is on top and who isnít. The truth is, though, that momentarily Čemanís situation is better.

Do your wife and your daughter accompany you in Manchester?

Yes, and in the spring, shortly before the start of the World Championship, there will be another member of our family. We are expecting a baby girl, again! {laughter}

Martin Straka will be a father soon as well.

StrŠča, seriously? We really got it going! Milan Hejduk is expecting soon, as well. At least the guys will find out what it is all about.







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.

Back to Tomas' Translation List


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