Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Spacek Interviewed

Back after a couple of days off on holiday. I didn't know how much I needed one. Now I know that I need another. Luckily the hockey world was kind – refraining from making any news of note for another week. Maybe there's a hint of disappointment in that for me, but there must also be relief given some signings in recent Augusts for our illustrious GM.

At risk of becoming the voice of Jaroslav Spacek, I wanted to point you all to a lengthy interview with the new Habs blueliner from the Journal de Montreal via Canoe

I have paraphrased from the translation of a probable translation. Take the quotes with a very large grain of salt. The themes should hopefully be maintained:

Spacek not an offensive defenceman

At least in his own opinion, Jaroslav isn't an offensive player. Still, 45 points ain't shabby.
«Mais je ne me qualifie pas pour autant comme étant un défenseur offensif. Je suis sur la glace avant tout pour empêcher l'adversaire de marquer. D'ailleurs, s'il y a une chose que je déteste par-dessus tout, c'est quand je suis sur la patinoire pour un but de l'équipe adverse.»

"I don't consider myself an offensive defenceman. I'm on the ice to stop the opposition from scoring. In fact, if there's on thing that I hate most, it's being on the ice for a goal against."

Has a bad memory

Maybe the question I assume was asked wasn't, but Spacek appears to say he doesn' know any of his new teammates. He certainly should know Hamrlik, having been part of the same Olympic gold medal hockey team in 1998. Perhaps he's written Roman off just like 3/4 of Canadiens fans.

Calls for patience

Wise for his age. That or he knows he needs to buy his team some time from the fans here. Spacek thinks some parts of finding team chemistry will take time:
«Quand je regarde notre formation, je constate que nous présenterons une toute nouvelle équipe aux amateurs de Montréal. C'est évident que ça prendra un certain temps avant de trouver les bonnes lignes d'attaque, mais je suis persuadé que les entraîneurs et la direction ont déjà de bonnes idées à ce sujet.»

"When I look at the team, I can see that we are an entirely new proposition for the fans in Montreal. It's clear that it will take some time to find productive line combinations, but I'm convinced that the coaches and the managers have good ideas on the subject."

A question and answer session followed:

Q: The Canadiens are your 6th NHL team (after the Panther, Hawks, Blue Jackets, Oilers and Sabres). Did you ever think you'd end up in Montreal?

A: I'm really looking forward to joining the Habs, who have shown a real commitment to me with a 3-year contract. It was important for me to sign a contract that was over a few years.

Not quite driving to Montreal the minute he's signed, but I'll take it. It explains why we didn't sign him for one year...

Q: You've already played at the Bell Centre (vs. the Canadiens) many times. How do you find the crowd and the ambience?

A: I can't say anything but good things about Montreal when it comes to hockey. Canadiens fans are unique among NHL fans, making the Bell Centre a magical place to play. My family can't wait to hear the "Olé, Olé" cheer as we approach the end of a game with a lead!

A diplomat as well as a good negotiator of contracts.

Q: Montreal fans can be unforgiving, and have a tendency to let the team know when things are going badly. How do you feel about that?

A: I'm very familiar with the reputation of Canadians fans. I know that fans and the organisation take their hockey very seriously. They are knowledgable hockey fans and they want to see their team work hard to win games, which is a good thing. It was very similar when I played for Edmonton.

He may be surprised about the differences between us and Oiler fans. Hopefully he won't have to find out about the special cheer reserved for repeated defensive turnovers too early in the year...

Q: What are your best NHL memories? Was it the Stanley Cup final with the Oilers in 2005-06?

A: That series was incredible. Believe me, losing in a seventh game and coming so close to getting your hands on the Cup was not a pleasant experience for me. I have to admit I still feel a bit shaken just talking about it. I'd give everything to get back there. I hope that one of these days I will be raising the Stanley Cup...

A good level of lingering disappointment is good. Too bad the reporter forgot to ask why he signed elsewhere the minute free agency hit after that Cup run, though.

Q: You won the Olympic gold with the Czech team in 1998 and the bronze in 2006 in Turin. Are these the best memories of your career?

A: Just to have the chance to play in the Olympics was a great experience. But, without a doubt, the most unforgettable experience was what I went through in Nagano. It was the first time that all the best players from the NHL were at the Olympics. It was those Olympics that really kick-started my career. To be a part of the Olympics with the best players on the planet was a great experience. We'll soon see what the next ones will be like.

Olympic gold's not a bad way to launch a career at all. As he didn't mention the bronze, I'm guessing he's not so hot on the losing experience as the winning.

Q: How are you spending your summer? Where are you going on holiday?

A: I started my summer holidays earlier than I would have liked when the Sabres missed the playoffs. I took my family to the Bahamas for a while and then we came back to Europe, where we moved into a new house in Rokycany. So I was quite busy with the move. But we have had the time to relax a bit with family and friends.

A summer vacation in Czech never hurt anyone. Pilsener, sausages and the like. I can't believe he didn't stay in Buffalo...

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